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Life of Black Hawk 


ioe Classics 

Life of 
Black Hawk 


Ma-Ka-1 Yj~Me~She-Kia-Kiak 


Superintendent of 

vn* *** 




Life of 
Black Hawk 

\ \ 




Superintendent of 
The Stute Bisloricpl Society of Wjsco*\i# 

press, Cbica0o 


i preface 

AS announced in the preface of last year s 
A\ volume, the series of reminiscences of 
Chicago life was there completed. The 
purpose of these annual publications has been 
twofold, first, to present an example of the 
high standards of craftsmanship attained by 
the apprentices of the Lakeside Press, and 
secondly, to carry at Christmastide the good 
wishes of the Press to its many patrons and 
friends. It has been the aim to select subject 
matter which is worth while in itself on account 
of its human interest, and which has the added 
value of being not readily obtainable else 
where. The accomplishment of this aim in 
the volumes on Early Chicago is fully attested 
by their popularity. So popular has been this 
historical note that it has been decided to use 
for a time at least, similar material about the 
contiguous Northwest ; and the publishers feel 
especially fortunate in having enlisted the en 
thusiasm of Dr. Milo Milton Quaife who will 
search out and edit the subject matter for 
these volumes. No one is more deeply versed 
in the history and literature of the Old North 
west Territory or has a finer appreciation of 
its romance; and as superintendent of the 
State Historical Society of Wisconsin he has 

> preface 

access to the richest store of material. The 
Autobiography of Black Hawk has been se 
lected as the subject matter for this year. 
That it will continue to maintain the interest 
shown in the former volumes is the hope of 







1834 9 



INDEX 185 


si Deface 

BLACK HAWK WAR was one of 

the pathetic tragedies of the development 
of our middle border. Much as our coun 
try blundered into war with England in 1 8 12, 
so, twenty years later, Black Hawk blundered 
into war with the United States. As great a 
tragedy, but much longer drawn out, was the 
entire life of Black Hawk. The reasons for 
reprinting at this time his Apologia have been 
stated in the main in the Historical Introduc 
tion which follows these pages. Here I desire 
only to call attention to the attitude which has 
governed me, first in recommending to the 
Lakeside Press the selection of this work for 
inclusion in the Lakeside Classics, and second 
in performing the editorial work which was 
entrusted to me. I am far from yielding to 
the American Indian the blind adulation and 
undiscriminating praise which unfortunately 
has long been popular with a certain school of 
writers. Nor, on the other hand, do I think 
he should be treated with the unreasoning 
scorn and bitter prejudice which was commonly 
manifested by the frontiersmen who came into 
actual contact and conflict with him. The 
Indian was a savage; even, it may be granted, 
a splendid type of savage. As such, he had 

<&itor preface 

his faults and his virtues. Regarded from 
his own viewpoint of life these are alike 
comprehensible. As measured by civilized 
standards of achievement in the various realms 
of human activity, the red man was vastly the 
white man s inferior. Ideally, the represen 
tatives of the favored race should have mani 
fested toward their weaker brethren an attitude 
of benevolent guardianship. In practice, the 
white race was commonly guilty of cruel 
injustice to the red. The red man, according 
to his wisdom which, it must be remembered, 
was the wisdom of the child of the forest, 
struck out, oftentimes blindly enough, by way 
of retaliation. It is the function of the his 
torian to seek for and set forth the simple 
truth. Being human, however, he has his 
frailties and his viewpoint. Without conced 
ing the ultimate righteousness of the cause of 
the red man in his four-century conflict with 
the white for the possession of the American 
Continent, it is still possible to give him his 
just due. Only as we strive to understand 
his viewpoint and enter into the perceptions 
from which his actions resulted can we truly 
tell the story of the relations of the two races 
in American history. To this end, the autobi 
ography of Black Hawk is a unique document. 
Entirely aside from its historical interest, it 
should possess a decided human interest for 
all who are inclined to enter into the life and 

itor g preface 

trials of the true native American, the North 
American Indian. 

In the preparation of the volume for the 
press I have enjoyed and desire to acknowl 
edge the efficient assistance of Pauline Buell, 
Mary Farley, Louise P. Kellogg, and Mary 
Foster, all members of the staff of the Wis 
consin Historical Library. The map which 
is given has been drawn by Miss Foster, while 
Miss Kellogg has prepared the index. The 
responsibility for proof-reading and otherwise 
seeing the copy through the press has been 
assumed by the publisher. 


Madison, Wisconsin 


Life of Black Hawk 
















J. B. Patterson, of Rock Island, III. Editor and Proprietor. 






Rock-Island, October 1 6, 1833. 

tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Hawk, did 
call upon me, on his return to his people 
in August last, and express a great desire to 
have a History of his life written and published, 
in order, (as he said) "that the people of the 
United States, (among whom he had been trav 
elling, and by whom he had been treated with 
great respect, friendship and hospitality,) might 
know the causes that had impelled him to act 
as he had done, and the principles by which 
he was governed." In accordance with his 
request, I acted as Interpreter; and was par 
ticularly cautious, to understand distinctly the 
narrative of Black Hawk throughout and 
have examined the work carefully, since its 
completion and have no hesitation in pro 
nouncing it strictly correct, in all its particulars. 
Given under my hand, at the Sac and Fox 
Agency, the day and date above written. 


U. S. Interpreter for the Sacs and Foxes. 



Sir, The changes of fortune, and vicissi 
tudes of war, made you my conqueror. When 
my last resources were exhausted, my warriors 
worn down with long and toilsome marches, 
we yielded, and I became your prisoner. 

The story of my life is told in the following 
pages ; it is intimately connected, and in some 
measure, identified with a part of the history 
of your own: I have, therefore, dedicated it 
to you. 

The changes of many summers, have brought 
old age upon me, and I cannot expect to 
survive many moons. Before I set out on my 
journey to the land of my fathers, I have deter 
mined to give my motives and reasons for my 
former hostilities to the whites, and to vindicate 
my character from misrepresentation. The 
kindness I received from you whilst a prisoner 
of war, assures me that you will vouch for the 
facts contained in my narrative, so far as they 
came under your observation. 

I am now an obscure member of a nation, 
that formerly honored and respected my opin 
ions. The path to glory is rough, and many 
gloomy hours obscure it. May the Great Spirit 
shed light on your s and that you may never 
experience the humility that the power of the 
American government has reduced me to, is 
the wish of him, who, in his native forests, 
was once as proud and bold as yourself. 


Moon, 1833. 

It is presumed no apology will be required 
for presenting to the public, the life of a Hero 
who has lately taken such high rank among 
the distinguished individuals of America. In 
the following pages he will be seen in the char 
acters of a Warrior, a Patriot and a State- 
prisoner in every situation he is still the 
Chief of his Band, asserting their rights with 
dignity, firmness and courage. Several ac 
counts of the late war having been published, 
in which he thinks justice is not done to himself 
or nation, he determined to make known to the 
world, the injuries his people have received 
from the whites the causes which brought on 
the war on the part of his nation, and a gen 
eral history of it throughout the campaign. 
In his opinion, this is the only method now left 
him, to rescue his little Band the remnant of 
those who fought bravely with him from the 
effects of the statements that have already 
gone forth. 

The facts which he states, respecting the 
Treaty of 1804, in virtue of the provisions of 
which Government claimed the country in dis 
pute, and enforced its argument with the sword, 
are worthy of attention. It purported to cede 
to the United States, all the country, including 

the village and corn-fields of Black Hawk and 
his band, on the east side of the Mississippi. 
Four individuals of the tribe, who were on a 
visit to St. Louis to obtain the liberation of one 
of their people from prison, were prevailed 
upon, (says Black Hawk,) to make this impor 
tant treaty, without the knowledge or authority 
of the tribes, or nation. 

In treating with the Indians for their country, 
it has always been customary to assemble the 
whole nation; because, as has been truly sug 
gested by the Secretary of War, the nature 
of the authority of the chiefs of a tribe is such, 
that it is not often that they dare make a treaty 
of much consequence, and we might add, 
never, when involving so much magnitude as 
the one under consideration, without the pres 
ence of their young men. A rule so reasonable 
and just ought never to be violated and the 
Indians might well question the right of Gov 
ernment to dispossess them, when such violation 
was made the basis of its right. 

The Editor has written this work according 
to the dictation of Black Hawk, through the 
United States Interpreter, at the Sac and Fox 
Agency of Rock Island. He does not, there 
fore, consider himself responsible for any of 
the facts, or views, contained in it and leaves 
the old chief and his story with the public, 
whilst he neither asks, nor expects, any fame 
for his services as an amanuensis. 



MUCH has been heard, in recent years, of 
the doctrine of benevolent assimilation 
of the backward races of the earth by 
their more enlightened and powerful brethren. 
A few years ago the "white man s burden" 
was a commonplace of current speech and dis 
cussion. More recently, if contemporary belief 
may be credited, this same doctrine of the duty 
of a chosen people to inherit the earth, forcibly, 
if need be, has constituted an important factor 
in bringing on the Great War. From the 
beginning, the course of development of the 
American people has been marked by a tragic 
struggle, on the part of a superior race to grasp, 
of an inferior one to retain, possession of the 
virgin continent disclosed to the European 
world by the momentous voyage of discovery 
of 1492. In the present discussion it is my 
purpose neither to praise nor to blame either the 
red or the white race, the two parties to this 
four-hundred-year contest ; but rather, having 
emphasized the fact of its inevitability, to take 
note of certain of the circumstances by which 
the struggle was attended. 

It may be regarded as axiomatic that when 
a superior and an inferior race come in contact 
a struggle for domination will ensue, the result 


of which ordinarily will be the triumph of the 
former over the latter. Hard as their fate 
may seem to the conquered, it is an essential 
accompaniment to the progress of the human 
race. We need not regret, therefore, that the 
white man triumphed over the red and wrested 
from him the North American continent. The 
progress of civilization was involved in the vic 
tory of the superior race. Nevertheless it is 
to the eternal discredit of the white man that 
he made the fate of his opponent needlessly 
hard and bitter; and that in almost every stage 
of the long struggle, the relations of the white 
race with its less civilized neighbors have been 
marked by a disregard both of justice and of 
solemn treaty obligations. Inevitably this 
operated to goad the red man into impotent 
warfare, which became, in turn, the excuse for 
further spoliation. Fundamentally the races 
warred because the red man wished to retain a 
continent which the white man intended to 
take. The American people as such, however, 
never intended deliberately to wrong the Indian. 
No government ever entertained more enlight 
ened and benevolent intentions toward a weaker 
people than did that of the United States toward 
the Indian; but seldom in history has a sadder 
divergence between intention and performance 
been witnessed. In large part the failure of 
the government to realize its good will toward 
the red men was due to factors over which it 
had and could have no control. But all too 


often, alas, it was due to the government s 
unwillingness or inability to restrain its lawless 
subjects, who hesitated at no means to possess 
themselves of the land, the furs, and the other 
property of the Indians. 

These remarks are designed to assist the 
reader to an appreciation of the historical sig 
nificance of the autobiography which follows. 
It is not a finished historical narration; rather, 
it is an example of the raw material from which 
such narratives are constructed. In telling the 
story of his life, Black Hawk was writing a 
partisan document. He was not animated by 
the ideal for truth to which the professional 
historian subscribes, nor did he enjoy the his 
torian s sense of detatched perspective. He 
is far from being the greatest or ablest repre 
sentative of his race in American history, and 
he burned with the consciousness of his wrongs 
at the hands of the white race. To read prof 
itably his autobiography, therefore, it is neces 
sary to appreciate and to allow for its partisan 
ship. Allowance should be made, too, for the 
circumstances under which it was produced. 
Dictated by Black Hawk in his native tongue, 
turned into English by an interpreter, and put 
into literary form by still a third person, it 
would be strange indeed if the narrative conveys 
in all cases the meaning the author intended. 

Because of these reasons, in part, some have 
denied that the work possesses historical valid 
ity. Most students, however, have felt that it 


should be regarded as a serious historical nar 
rative, and that it constitutes an important 
source of information for the period and sub 
ject matter with which it deals. This opinion 
the writer shares. But the major interest in, 
and the historical importance, of the volume is 
quite independent of the accuracy of its details. 
Whether true or untrue in its statements, and 
in this respect it shares the errors common to all 
autobiography, the book is important because 
it illuminates, as with a flash of lightning, the 
viewpoint and state of mind of a typical repre 
sentative of the vanquished race. Not often 
has the red man enjoyed, or so well improved 
an opportunity to tell his story and to set forth 
his wrongs. Yet, unless this viewpoint be un 
derstood, there can be no fair or intelligent 
comprehension of one of the most important 
aspects of American history, nor any informed 
opinion of the measure of justice, or its oppo 
site, which our country has meted out to him. 
Historically, then, the autobiography possesses 
a twofold significance : immediately, as a valu 
able source of information pertaining to the 
history of the middle western border; and 
more broadly, as representative of the viewpoint 
and feelings of the Indian throughout the entire 
period of conflict with the whites. 

Two dominant influences in American history 
made possible the career of Black Hawk. One 
was the rivalry, already dwelt upon, between 
red man and white; the other, the international 


rivalry between Great Britain and her indepen 
dent American offspring. For generations 
before the Peace of Paris of 1763, the French 
and the English had competed strenuously for 
the trade and, therewith the favor, of the Indian. 
It followed, as a matter of course, that Indian 
statecraft concerned itself chiefly with turning 
to the greatest possible advantage the rivalry 
between the two great European nations. With 
the revolt of the colonies from the mother 
country in 17/5, the old French-English con 
flict for commercial and political supremacy in 
North America was replaced by the newer 
rivalry between Great Britain and the United 
States . The Treaty of Paris of 1 783 nominally 
conceded to the latter sovereignty over the terri 
tory south of the Great Lakes and westward 
to the Mississippi. Actually, however, most 
of the region lying between the Alleghenies and 
the Mississippi was a wilderness held by various 
and powerful Indian tribes from whom the 
country was still to be wrested. North of the 
Ohio River, the section with which we are 
immediately concerned, the British sought to 
retain the control which, formally, they had 
surrendered by the treaty of 1783. British 
and Indian interests coincided, therefore, in a 
policy of resistance to the westward advance 
of the Americans. Nevertheless this advance 
progressed steadily, and more and more Amer 
ican sovereignty was extended over the North 
west. With its progress the tribes fell more 


and more under American influence. Thus 
the British-American rivalry was omnipresent 
throughout the frontier, and the different 
bands and tribes adhered to the one party 
or the other according as inclination or self- 
interest dictated. In this political atmosphere 
the active life of Black Hawk was spent. 
His tribe succumbed only tardily to the Amer 
ican influence, to which Black Hawk himself 
never yielded until compelled thereto by force 
of arms in old age. Leader of the "Brit 
ish band" of Sauks, he was an inveterate 
foe of the American nation even after the 
majority of his tribe had yielded allegiance 
to it. 

Black Hawk was the natural product of the 
political environment which encompassed him. 
Unfortunately for him and his people, however, 
he was unable to perceive in his later years 
that for all practical purposes the British-Amer 
ican rivalry had come to an end and that 
therewith must end, also, his lifelong role of 
hostility to the United States. Blindly, there 
fore, he led his people to destruction, and in 
so doing gave to the history of the old North 
west its last Indian War. Half a century 
after the Treaty of Paris of 1783 had given the 
United States nominal sovereignty over the 
Northwest, by the overthrow of Black Hawk 
and his followers the last effort of armed 
resistance to the establishment of this sover 
eignty was crushed. 



The more immediate cause of the Black 
Hawk War redounds to the credit neither of 
the white man nor the red. Had Black Hawk 
been more statesmanlike and less unscrupulous 
the war need never have been fought ; equally 
might it have been obviated had the govern 
ment or citizens of the United States observed, 
in their treatment of Black Hawk s band, the 
ordinary dictates of justice and reason. For 
the story of the war the reader must seek else 
where. Here we can only sketch briefly the 
situation which precipitated it. In the autumn 
of 1804 Governor Harrison of Indiana Terri 
tory concluded at St. Louis a treaty with cer 
tain representatives of the Sauk and Fox nations 
whereby the latter, in return mainly for the 
paltry annuity of $1000, ceded to the United 
States some fifty million acres of land, com 
prising the territory lying between the Wiscon 
sin River, the Fox of Illinois, the Illinois, and 
the Mississippi, together with the eastern third 
of the state of Missouri. It is idle now to 
debate the question of the fairness of this treaty, 
or of the compensation it carried. Ample jus 
tification can easily be found for a general 
indictment of the system employed by the 
United States in negotiating treaties with the 
Indians. 1 But, although the area ceded was 

a consideration of this point as illustrated by 
the two Chicago treaties of 1821 and 1833, see the 
writer s Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673-1833, 
chap. xv. 



larger than common, there is nothing about this 
particular transaction to distinguish it materially 
from scores of other treaties which have been 
concluded with the Indians. Black Hawk later 
advanced the contention that the Sauk and the 
Fox signers of the treaty acted without author 
ity from their nations; in short, that so far as 
the tribes were concerned it was a fraudulent 
transaction; and to this treaty he ascribed the 
origin of all his people s difficulties with the 
United States. This contention, however, is 
not supported by the facts. There is no other 
evidence than the assertions of Black Hawk 
that more than the usual cajolery of the Indians 
was indulged in by the white representatives in 
securing the cession ; nor that any protest was 
made against it save Black Hawk s own a 
quarter of a century later. On the contrary, 
in a number of subsequent treaties, to several 
of which Black Hawk himself attached his sig 
nature, the Sauks and Foxes reaffirmed the 
provisions of the treaty of 1804. 

To this treaty, nevertheless, is to be ascribed 
a principal occasion of the war of 1832. By 
article seven it was agreed that "as long as the 
lands which are now ceded to the United States 
remain their property, the Indians belonging 
to the said tribes shall enjoy the privilege of 
living and hunting upon them." In consider 
ing this fateful stipulation it should be recalled 
that in 1804 modern Indiana contained but a 
few thousand inhabitants clustered around 


Vincennes and along the Ohio border ; that in 
Illinois, settlement was confined to the old 
French towns of the American Bottom; and 
that all Michigan, outside Detroit and its envi 
rons, was likewise a silent wilderness. There 
would seem to be no reason, therefore, for 
prohibiting the Sauks and Foxes the enjoyment 
of their patrimony, until such time as the 
advance of American settlement should cause it 
actually to be needed by the whites. But the 
American frontiersman has ever been contemp 
tuous alike of the rights of the Indian and of the 
restraining hand of his government . Animated 
by a marvelous energy, matched only by his 
audacious self-confidence, he has pushed the 
line of settlement across the continent, often 
times in advance, and frequently in defiance 
of the federal government. So it happened 
that about the year 1823 covetous squatters 
began to usurp possession of the rich fields 
cultivated by Black Hawk s "British band " 
at the mouth of Rock River. This vicinity is 
today a perfect garden spot to the agricultur 
ist, the center of one of the finest farm 
ing regions on the face of the globe. It is 
not strange that the squatters coveted Black 
Hawk s fields; yet the line of homestead set 
tlement was still some distance away, the inter 
vening territory had not been surveyed, and 
it was the plain duty of the federal govern 
ment to eject the squatters and protect the na 
tives in the enjoyment of their treaty rights. 


Unfortunately for our repute as a law-abid 
ing people, seldom has a general law been 
enforced in the United States in the face of 
determined local opposition. Nor was it done 
in the case we are considering. Black Hawk 
made vain and repeated appeals to the white 
authorities for protection, and for redress of 
his grievances. No relief was afforded, while 
year after year the encroachments continued 
and his followers were .subjected to frequent 
indignity and outrage. The Indian has ever 
been tenacious of his birthplace, and when at 
length the issue was forced upon him Black 
Hawk resolved to fight for the retention of the 
village where he had been born and where his 
ancestors were buried. 

The unwisdom of this resolve is manifest. 
Whatever his wrongs may have been, for Black 
Hawk to raise the hatchet against the United 
States in 1832 was to lead his nation to suicide. 
The wiser Keokuk advised a peaceful retreat 
across the Mississippi. Only temporarily did 
Black Hawk yield, however, in the spring of 
1831, when, in the face of a strong military 
demonstration by the regular army and the 
Illinois militia, he withdrew to the Iowa side 
of the river. A year later, spurred by illusory 
hopes of British alliance and of Indian co-oper 
ation, he led his followers, about a thousand 
souls in all, back to the Illinois shore, and 
therewith began the pitiful tragedy known to 
history as the Black Hawk War. 



Its story is one that few can take pleasure 
in dwelling upon. The war was unfortunate 
alike in its inception, in the way it was waged, 
and in the manner of its conclusion. That 
Black Hawk must be crushed admits of no 
dispute. That Indian men and women and 
little children should be indiscriminately mas 
sacred after Black Hawk s power had been 
broken was a ghastly luxury which our fore 
fathers might well have foreborne to enjoy. 

The war over, Black Hawk was taken as a 
prisoner on an extensive tour of the East, in 
order that he might receive ocular demonstra 
tion of the futility of contesting the power of 
the United States. Thereafter, humbled and 
disgraced, he lived for several years a life of 
peaceful retirement which contrasted strangely 
indeed with his stormy, active career. Even in 
death, he was not immune from outrage at the 
hands of the conquerors of his people, for his 
body was stolen from the grave and subjected 
to the treatment commonly reserved for male 

For northern Illinois and Wisconsin the war 
had an influence not to be measured by the 
degree of magnitude of its military events. 
For all practical purposes in 1832 the region 
between the Wisconsin and the Illinois rivers, 
aside from the vicinity of the lead mines, was 
an unknown wilderness. As a result of the 
war much of it was explored, while the fear of 
the Indian and the Indian title to the land 



disappeared together. With the completion of 
the Erie Canal in 1825, a transportation route 
had been provided whereby the tide of white 
settlers from the East might gain easy access 
to the lands lying to the west of Lake Michi 
gan. Suddenly the rush of white settlement 
along this highway began. It involved the 
birth of the modern Chicago in the year fol 
lowing the war, and, in rapid succession, of 
many another mid-western city. It filled nor 
thern Illinois and Wisconsin with settlers from 
the free states, and ere long the tide of settle 
ment crossed the Mississippi. Thus, at length, 
the upper portion of the Great Valley was set 
tled, mainly by a free-state population coming 
by way of the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. 
It seems not entirely fanciful to suggest that 
the Black Hawk War, in which Jefferson Davis 
and Abraham Lincoln, Winfield Scott and 
Albert Sidney Johnston, and many another 
noted Civil War character took part, indirectly 
played a considerable role in shaping the issue 
of the later and greater conflict. 


JLffe of TBlacfe 

I WAS born at the Sac Village, on Rock 
river, in the year 1/67, and am now in 
my 6/th year. My great grandfather, 
Na-na-ma-kee, or Thunder, (according to the 
tradition given me by my father, Py-e-sa,) was 
born in the vicinity of Montreal, where the 
Great Spirit first placed the Sac Nation, and 
inspired him with a belief that, at the end of 
four years, he should see a white man, who 
would be to him a father. Consequently he 
blacked his face, and eat but once a day, (just 
as the sun was going down,) for three years, 
and continued dreaming throughout all this 
time whenever he slept; when the Great 
Spirit again appeared to him, and told him, 
that, at the end of one year more, he should 
meet his father, and directed him to start 
seven days before its expiration, and take with 
him his two brothers, Na-mah, or Sturgeon, and 
Pau-ka-hum-ma-wa, or Sun Fish, and travel 
in a direction to the left of sun-rising. After 
pursuing this course five days, he sent out his 
two brothers to [14] listen if they could hear a 
noise, and if so, to fasten some grass to the 
end of a pole, erect it, pointing in the direction 
of the sound, and then return to him. 


Early next morning, they returned, and 
reported that they had heard sounds which 
appeared near at hand, and that they had ful 
filled his order. They all then started for the 
place where the pole had been erected ; when, 
on reaching it, Na-na-ma-kee left his party, 
and went, alone, to the place from whence the 
sounds proceeded, and found that the white 
man had arrived and pitched his tent. When 
he came in sight, his father came out to meet 
him. He took him by the hand, and welcomed 
him into his tent. He told him that he was 
the son of the King of France that he had 
been dreaming for four years that the Great 
Spirit had directed him to come here, where 
he should meet a nation of people who had 
never yet seen a white man that they should 
be his children, and he should be their father 
that he had communicated these things to 
the King, his father, who laughed at him, and 
called him a Ma-she-na but he insisted on 
coming here to meet his children, where the 
Great Spirit had directed him. The King told 
him that he would neither find land nor people 
that this was an uninhabited region of lakes 
and mountains ; but, finding that he would have 
no peace without it, fitted out a na-pe-qua, 
manned it, and gave it to him in charge, when 
he immediately loaded it, set sail, and had now 
landed on the very day that the Great Spirit 
had told him, in his dreams, he should meet 
his chil-[i5]dren. He had now met the man 

ft of 25Iacft J^atoft 

who should, in future, have charge of all the 

He then presented him with a medal, 1 which 
he hung round his neck. Na-na-ma-kee in 
formed him of his dreaming, and told him 
that his two brothers remained a little ways 
behind. His father gave him a shirt, blanket, 
and handkerchief, besides a variety of presents, 
and told him to go and bring his brothers. 
Having laid aside his buffalo robe, and dressed 
himself in his new dress, he started to meet 
his brethren. When they met, he explained to 
them his meeting with the white man, and 
exhibited to their view the presents that he had 
made him took off his medal, and placed it 
upon Nah-ma, his elder brother, and requested 
them both to go with him to his father. 

They proceeded thither, were ushered into 
the tent, and, after some brief ceremony, his 
father opened his chest and took presents there 
from for the newcomers. He discovered that 
Na-na-ma-kee had given his medal to Nah-ma. 
He told him that he had done wrong he 
should wear that medal himself, as he had 
others for his brethren: That which he had 
given him was a type of the rank he should 
hold in the nation: That his brothers could 

*A11 the European nations followed the practice of 
giving medals to the friendly leaders of the Indians, 
a custom which the United States also followed. 
The medal was at once a certificate of friendship 
and a mark of the esteem and importance with which 
the recipient was regarded. 


ife of 2Macft J^atoft 

only rank as civil chiefs, and their duties 
should consist of taking care of the village, and 
attending to its civil concerns whilst his rank, 
from his superior knowledge, placed him over 
them all. If the nation gets into any difficulty 
with another, then his puc-co-ha-wa-ma, or 
sovereign decree, must be obeyed. If he de 
clared war, he must [16] lead them on to battle: 
That the Great Spirit had made him a great 
and brave general, and had sent him here to give 
him that medal, and make presents to him for 
his people. 

His father remained four days during which 
time he gave him guns, powder and lead, spears 
and lances, and showed him their use ; so that 
in war he could chastise his enemies, and in 
peace they could kill buffalo, deer, and other 
game, necessary for the comforts and luxuries 
of life. He then presented the others with 
various kinds of cooking utensils, and learned 
them their uses, and having given them a 
large quantity of goods, as presents, and every 
other thing necessary for their comfort, he set 
sail for France, after promising to meet them 
again, at the same place, after the twelfth moon. 

The three newly-made chiefs returned to 
their village, and explained to Muk-a-ta-quet, 
their father, who was the principal chief of the 
nation, what had been said and done. The old 
chief had some dogs killed, and made a feast, 
preparatory to resigning his sceptre, to which 
all the nation were invited. Great anxiety 

itife of SMacft 

prevailed among them, to know what the three 
brothers had seen and heard, when the old 
chief rose, and related to them the sayings and 
doings of his three sons; and concluded by 
observing, that "the Great Spirit had directed 
that these, his three children, should take the 
rank and power that had been his, and that 
he yielded these honors and duties willingly to 
them, because it was the wish of the [17] 
Great Spirit, and he could never consent to 
make him angry!" He now presented the 
great medicine bag to Na-na-ma-kee, and told 
him, "that he cheerfully resigned it to him 
it is the soul of our nation it has never yet 
been disgraced and I will expect you to keep 
it unsullied!" 

Some dissension arose among some of them, 
in consequence of so much power being given 
to Na-na-ma-kee, he being so young a man. 
To quiet this, Na-na-ma-kee, during a violent 
thunder storm, told them that he had caiised it! 
and that it was an exemplification of the name 
the Great Spirit had given him. During this 
storm, the lightning struck, and set fire to a 
tree, close by; (a sight they had never witnessed 
before.) He went to it, and brought away some 
of its burning branches, made a fire in the 
lodge, and seated his brothers thereby, oppo 
site to each other; whilst he stood up, and 
addressed his people as follows: 

"I am yet young but the Great Spirit has 
called me to the rank I now hold among you. 

ife of <$fecEt l^atoft 

I have never sought to be anything more than 
my birth entitled me. I have not been ambi 
tious nor was it ever my wish, whilst my 
father lives, to have taken his place nor have 
I now usurped his powers. The Great Spirit 
caused me to dream for four years, he told 
me where to go and meet the white man, who 
would be a kind father to us all. I obeyed his 
order. I went, and have seen our new father. 
You have all heard what was said and done. 
The Great Spirit directed him to come and meet 
me, and it is his order that places me at the 
head of my nation, the place which my father 
has willingly resigned. 

You have all witnessed the power which has 
been given to me by the Great Spirit, in mak 
ing that fire and all that I now ask is, that 
these, my two chiefs, may never let it go out : 
That they may preserve peace among you, and 
administer to the wants of the needy: And, 
should an enemy invade our country, I will then, 
but not until then, assume command, and go 
forth with my band of brave warriors, and 
endeavor to chastise them!" 

At the conclusion of this speech, every voice 
cried out for Na-na-ma-kee! All were satis 
fied, when they found that the Great Spirit 
had done, what they had suspected was the work 
of Na-na-ma-kee, he being a very shrewd 
young man. 

The next spring, according to promise, their 
French father returned, with his na-pe-qua 

ittfc of SSlacft 

richly laden with goods, which were distributed 
among them. He continued for a long time 
to keep up a regular trade with them they 
giving him, in exchange for his goods, furs 
and peltries. 

After a long time, the British overpowered 
the French, (the two nations being at war,) 
drove them away from Quebec, and took pos 
session of it themselves. The different tribes 
of Indians around our nation, envying our 
people, united their forces against them, and 
succeeded, by their great strength, to drive 
them to Montreal, and from thence to Mack- 
inac. Here our people first met our British 
father, who fur-[i9]nished them with goods. 
Their enemies still pursued them, and drove 
them to different places on the lake, until they 
made a village near Green Bay, on what is now 
called Sac river, 2 having derived its name 
from this circumstance. Here they held a 
council with the Foxes, and a national treaty 
of friendship and alliance was concluded upon. 
The Foxes abandoned their village, and joined 
the Sacs. This arrangement being mutually 
obligatory upon both parties, as neither were 
sufficiently strong to meet their enemies with 
any hope of success, they soon became as one 

2 Modern Fox River. This account of Black Hawk s 
family and tribal history is in part legendary and in 
part based on tradition. The Sacs and Foxes were 
in Wisconsin for several generations before the over 
throw of the French in America by the British in the 
war of 1755-63. 


ttifc of 25latft 

band or nation of people. They were driven, 
however, by the combined forces of their 
enemies, to the Wisconsin. They remained 
here some time, until a party of their young 
men, (who had descended Rock river to its 
mouth,) returned, and made a favorable report 
of the country. They all descended Rock river 
drove the Kas-kas-kias from the country, 
and commenced the erection of their village, 
determined never to leave it. 

At this village I was born, being a regular 
descendant of the first chief, Na-na-ma-kee, or 
Thunder. Few, if any, events of note, trans 
pired within my recollection, until about my 
fifteenth year. I was not allowed to paint, or 
wear feathers; but distinguished myself, at that 
early age, by wounding an enemy; consequently, 
I was placed in the ranks of the Braves! 

Soon after this, a leading chief of the Mus- 
cow nation, came to our village for recruits to 
go to war against the Osages, our common 
enemy. 3 I volunteered my services to go, 
as my father had joined him ; [20] and was 
proud to have an opportunity to prove to him 
that I was not an unworthy son, and that I had 
courage and bravery. It was not long before 
we met the enemy, when a battle immediately 
ensued. Standing by my father s side, I saw 
him kill his antagonist, and tear the scalp from 

3 The Osage, a southern Siouan tribe, whose home 
was on the Osage River of Missouri, was commonly 
at war with most of its neighbors. 


31 tfc of lath 

his head. Fired with valor and ambition, I 
rushed furiously upon another, smote him to 
the earth with my tomahawk run my lance 
through his body took off his scalp, and 
returned in triumph to my father! He said 
nothing, but looked pleased. This was the first 
man I killed ! The enemy s loss in this engage 
ment having been great, they immediately 
retreated, which put an end to the war for the 
present. Our party then returned to our vil 
lage, and danced over the scalps we had taken. 
This was the first time that I was permitted to 
join in a scalp-dance. 

After a few moons had passed, (having 
acquired considerable fame as a brave,) I led 
a party of seven, and attacked one hundred 
Osages ! I killed one man, and left him for 
my comrades to scalp, whilst I was taking an 
observation of the strength and preparations 
of the enemy; and, finding that they were all 
equally well armed with ourselves, I ordered a 
retreat, and came off without losing a man! 
This excursion gained for me great applause, 
and enabled me, before a great while, to raise 
a party of one hundred and eighty, to go 
against the Osages. We left our village in 
high spirits, and marched over a rugged coun 
try, until we reached that of the Osages, on the 
Missouri. We fol- [21] lowed their trail until 
we arrived at their village, which we approached 
with great caution, expecting that they were 
all there ; but found, to our sorrow, that they 

3tifc of 2Wacft f atofe 

had deserted it! The party became dissatis 
fied, in consequence of this disappointment, 
and all, with the exception of five, dispersed 
and returned home. I then placed myself at 
the head of this brave little band, and thanked 
the Great Spirit that so many remained, 
and took up the trail of our enemies, with a 
full determination never to return without some 
trophy of victory! We followed on for several 
days killed one man and a boy, and then 
returned with their scalps. 

In consequence of this mutiny in my camp, 
I was not again enabled to raise a sufficient 
party to go against the Osages, until about my 
nineteenth year. During this interim, they 
committed many outrages on our nation and 
people. I succeeded, at length, in recruiting 
two hundred efficient warriors, and took up the 
line of march early in the morning. In a few 
days we were in the enemy s country, and had 
not traveled far before we met an equal force 
to contend with. A general battle immediately 
commenced, although my braves were consid 
erably fatigued by forced marches. Each party 
fought desperately. The enemy seemed un 
willing to yield the ground, and we were deter 
mined to conquer or die ! A large number of 
the Osages were killed, and many wounded, 
before they commenced retreating. A band of 
warriors more brave, skilful, and efficient than 
mine, could not be found. In this engagement 
I killed five men and one squaw, and had [22] 

ill ^w ^ 

* H 

a. >. 

ilife of 2Wack 

the good fortune to take the scalps of all I 
struck, except one. The enemy s loss in this 
engagement was about one hundred men. Ours 
nineteen. We now returned to our village, 
well pleased with our success, and danced over 
the scalps we had taken. 

The Osages, in consequence of their great 
loss in this battle, became satisfied to remain 
on their own lands ; and ceased, for a while, 
their depredations on our nation. Our atten 
tion, therefore, was directed towards an ancient 
enemy, who had decoyed and murdered some of 
our helpless women and children. I started, 
with my father, who took command of a small 
party, and proceeded against the enemy. We 
met near Merimack, 4 and an action ensued ; the 
Cherokees having greatly the advantage in 
numbers. Early in this engagement my father 
was wounded in the thigh but had the pleas 
ure of killing his antagonist before he fell. 
Seeing that he had fallen, I assumed command, 
and fought desperately, until the enemy com 
menced retreating before us. I returned to 
my father to administer to his necessities, but 
nothing could be done for him. The medicine 
man said the wound was mortal! from which 
he soon after died! In this battle I killed three 
men, and wounded several. The enemy s loss 
being twenty-eight, and ours seven. 

I now fell heir to the great medicine bag of 

4 Probably the Meramec River, a westward tributary 
of the Mississippi a short distance below St. Louis. 


Eife of 25Iacft i^atoft 

my forefathers, which had belonged to my 
father. I took it, buried our dead, and returned 
with my party, all sad and sorrowful, to our 
village, in consequence of the loss of my father. 
Owing to this misfortune, I blacked my [23] 
face, fasted, and prayed to the Great Spirit for 
five years during which time I remained in a 
civil capacity, hunting and fishing. 

The Osages having commenced aggressions 
on our people, and the Great Spirit having 
taken pity on me, I took a small party and 
went against the enemy, but could only find 
six men! Their forces being so weak, I 
thought it cowardly to kill them, but took 
them prisoners, and carried them to our Spanish 
father at St. Louis, and gave them up to him; 
and then returned to our village. Determined 
on the final extermination of the Osages, for 
the injuries our nation and people had received 
from them, I commenced recruiting a strong 
force, immediately on my return, and started, 
in the third moon, with five hundred Sacs and 
Foxes, and one hundred loways, and marched 
against the enemy. We continued our march 
for several days before we came upon their 
trail, which was discovered late in the day. 
We encamped for the night ; made an early 
start next morning, and before sun-down, fell 
upon forty-lodges, and killed all their inhabi 
tants, except two squaws! whom I captured and 
made prisoners. During this attack I killed 
seven men and two boys, with my own hand. 


life of 25Iacft 

In this engagement many of the bravest war 
riors among the Osages were killed, which 
caused the balance of their nation to remain 
on their own lands, and cease their aggressions 
upon our hunting grounds. 

The loss of my father, by the Cherokees, 
made me anxious to avenge his death, by the 
annihilation, if pos-[24]sible, of all their race. 
I accordingly commenced recruiting another 
party to go against them. Having succeeded 
in this, I started, with my party, and went into 
their country, but only found five of their 
people, whom I took prisoners. I afterwards 
released four men the other, a young squaw, 
we brought home. Great as was my hatred 
for this people, I could not kill so small a party. 

During the close of the ninth moon, I led a 
large party against the Chippewas, Kaskaskias 
and Osages. This was the commencement of 
a long and arduous campaign, which terminated 
in my thirty-fifth year ; having had seven reg 
ular engagements, and a number of small skir 
mishes. During this campaign, several hundred 
of the enemy were slain. I killed thirteen of 
their bravest warriors, with my own hand. 

Our enemies having now been driven from our 
hunting grounds, with so great a loss as they 
sustained, we returned, in peace, to our villages ; 
and, after the seasons of mourning and burying 
our dead relations, and of feast-dancing, had 
passed, we commenced preparations for our 
winter s hunt, in which we were very successful. 

itife of 25Iacfe fatoft 

We generally paid a visit to St. Louis every 
summer; but, in consequence of the protracted 
war in which we had been engaged, I had not 
been there for some years. Our difficulties 
having all been settled, I concluded to take a 
small party, that summer, and go down to see 
our Spanish father. We went and on our 
arrival, put up our lodges where the market- 
house now stands. After painting and dress 
ing, we called to [25] see our Spanish father, 
and were well received. He gave us a variety 
of presents, and plenty of provisions. We 
danced through the town as usual, and its 
inhabitants all seemed to be well pleased. 
They appeared to us like brothers and always 
gave us good advice. 

On my next, and last visit to my Spanish 
father, I discovered, on landing, that all was 
not right: every countenance seemed sad and 
gloomy! I inquired the cause, and was in 
formed that the Americans were coming to 
take possession of the town and country! and 
that we should then lose our Spanish father! 5 
This news made myself and band sad because 
we had always heard bad accounts of the Amer 
icans from Indians who had lived near them! 
and we were sorry to lose our Spanish 

5 By a secret treaty Louisiana had been transferred 
from Spain to France in 1800. Without ever having 
taken formal possession of the country, Napoleon 
sold it to the United States in 1803. Black Hawk 
was apparently unaware of the part played by France 
in the transfer. 


3tife of 2Wacft 

father, who had always treated us with great 

A few days afterwards the Americans 
arrived. I took my band, and went to take 
leave, for the last time, of our father. The 
Americans came to see him also. Seeing them 
approach, we passed out at one door, as they 
entered another and immediately started, in 
canoes, for our village on Rock river not 
liking the change any more than our friends 
appeared to, at St. Louis. 

On arriving at our village, we gave the news, 
that strange people had taken St. Louis and 
that we should never see our Spanish father 
again ! This information made all our people 
sorry ! 

Some time afterwards, a boat came up the 
river, with a young American chief, [Lieutenant 
(afterwards Gen-[26] eral) Pike,] and a small 
party of soldiers. We heard of him, (by run 
ners,) soon after he had passed Salt river. 
Some of our young braves watched him every 
day, to see what sort of people he had on board. 
The boat, at length, arrived at Rock river, and 
the young chief came on shore with his inter 
preter made a speech, and gave us some 
presents. We, in return, presented him with 
meat, and such provisions as we could spare. 

We were all well pleased with the speech of 

the young chief. He gave us good advice; 

said our American father would treat us well. 

He presented us an American flag, which was 


ttife of 2&lacft 

hoisted. He then requested us to pull down 
our British flags and give him our British 
medals promising to send us others on his 
return to St. Louis. This we declined, as we 
wished to have two Fathers! 

When the young chief started, we sent run 
ners to the Fox village, some miles distant, to 
direct them to treat him well as he passed 
which they did. He went to the head of the 
Mississippi, and then returned to St. Louis. 
We did not see any Americans again for some 
time, being supplied with goods by British 

We were fortunate in not giving up our 
medals for we learned afterwards, from our 
traders, that the chiefs high up on the Missis 
sippi, who gave theirs, never received any in 
exchange for them. But the fault was not 
with the young American chief. He was a 
good man, and a great brave and died in his 
country s service. 

[27] Some moons after this young chief 
descended the Mississippi, one of our people 
killed an American and was confined, in the 
prison at St. Louis, for the offence. 6 We 
held a council at our village to see what could 

6 Black Hawk is mistaken here as to the sequence 
of events. The murder of the Americans (three in 
stead of one were killed) occurred in the summer of 
1804, and was followed by Governor Harrison s 
treaty with the Sacs and Foxes in October of the 
same year. Zebulpn Pike s expedition to the head 
waters of the Mississippi took place in 1805-6. 


Eife of 25Iacft 

be done for him, which determined that 
Quash-qua-me, Pa-she-pa-ho, Oti-che-qua-ka, 
and Ha-she-quar-hi-qua, should go down to 
St. Louis, see our American father, and do all 
they could to have our friend released ; by 
paying for the person killed thus covering 
the blood, and satisfying the relations of the 
man murdered! This being the only means 
with us of saving a person who had killed 
another and we then thought it was the same 
way with the whites! 

The party started with the good wishes of 
the whole nation hoping they would accom 
plish the object of their mission. The relatives 
of the prisoner blacked their faces, and fasted 
hoping the Great Spirit would take pity on 
them, and return the husband and father to his 
wife and children. 

Quash-qua-me and party remained a long 
time absent. They at length returned, and 
encamped a short distance below the village 
but did not come up that day nor did any 
person approach their camp! They appeared 
to be dressed in fine coats and had medals! 
From these circumstances, we were in hopes 
that they had brought good news. Early the 
next morning, the Council Lodge was crowded 
Quash-qua-me and party came up, and gave 
us the following account of their mission: 

"On their arrival at St. Louis, they met 
their [28] American father, and explained to 
him their business, and urged the release of 

Sife of OTacft J^atoft 

their friend. The American chief told them 
he wanted land and they had agreed to give 
him some on the west side of the Mississippi, 
and some on the Illinois side opposite the Jef- 
freon. When the business was all arranged, 
they expected to have their friend released to 
come home with them. But about the time 
they were ready to start, their friend was let out 
of prison, who ran a short distance, and was shot 
dead! This is all they could recollect of what 
was said and done. They had been drunk the 
greater part of the time they were in St. Louis." 

This is all myself or nation knew of the treaty 
of 1804. It has been explained to me since. I 
find, by that treaty, all our country, east of the 
Mississippi, and south of the Jeff reon, was ceded 
to the United States for one thousand dollars a 
year! I will leave it to the people of the United 
States to say, whether our nation was properly 
represented in this treaty? or whether we receiv 
ed a fair compensation for the extent of country 
ceded by those four individuals ? I could say 
much about this treaty, but I will not, at this 
time. It has been the origin of all our difficulties. 

Some time after this treaty was made, a war 
chief, with a party of soldiers, came up in keel 
boats, and encamped a short distance above 
the head of the DesMoines rapids, and com 
menced cutting timber and building houses. 7 

7 This refers to the erection of Fort Madison, 
Iowa, begun in the autumn of 1808. For its history 
see Annals of Iowa, Third Series, III, 97-110. 

Sife of 25iacft 

The news of their arrival was soon carried to 
all the villages when council after council 
was held. We could not understand the inten 
tion, or reason, why [29] the Americans wanted 
to build houses at that place but were told 
that they were a party of soldiers, who had 
brought great guns with them and looked 
liked a war party of whites! 

A number of our people immediately went 
down to see what was doing myself among 
them. On our arrival, we found they were 
building zfort! The soldiers were busily en 
gaged in cutting timber ; and I observed that 
they took their arms with them, when they 
went to the woods and the whole party acted 
as they would do in an enemy s country! The 
chiefs held a council with the officers, or head 
men, of the party which I did not attend 
but understood from them that the war chief 
had said, that they were building houses for a 
trader, who was coming there to live, and 
would sell us goods very cheap! and that these 
soldiers were to remain to keep him company! 
We were pleased at this information, and hoped 
it was all true but we could not believe that 
all these buildings were intended merely for the 
accommodation of a trader! Being distrustful, 
of their intentions, we were anxious for them 
to leave off building, and go down the river 
again. By this time, a considerable number 
of Indians had arrived, to see what was doing. 
I discovered that the whites were alarmed! 

Eife of SMacft J^atofe 

Some of our young men watched a party of 
soldiers, who went out to work, carrying their 
arms which were laid aside, before they com 
menced. Having stole up quietly to the spot, 
they seized the guns and gave a yell! The 
party threw down their axes, and ran for [30] 
their arms, but found them gone! and them 
selves surrounded! Our young men laughed 
at them, and returned them their guns. 

When this party came to the fort, they 
reported what had been done, and the war chief 
made a serious affair of it. He called our 
chiefs to council, inside of his fort. This cre 
ated considerable excitement in our camp 
every one wanted to know what was going to 
be done and the picketing which had been 
put up, being low every Indian crowded 
round the fort, and got upon blocks of wood, 
and old barrels, that they might see what was 
going on inside. Some were armed with guns, 
and others with bows and arrows. We used 
this precaution, seeing that the soldiers had 
their guns loaded and having seen them load 
their big gun that morning ! 

A party of our braves commenced dancing, 
and proceeded up to the gate, with an intention 
of going in, but were stopped. The council 
immediately broke up the soldiers, with their 
arms in their hands, rushed out of their rooms, 
where they had been concealed the cannon 
was hauled in front of the gateway and a 
soldier came running with fire in his hand, 

life of 2Wacft 

ready to apply the match. Our braves gave 
way, and all retired to the camp. 

There was no preconcerted plan to attack 
the whites at that time but I am of opinion 
now, had our party got into the fort, all 
the whites would have been killed as the 
British soldiers had been at Mackinac many 
years before. 

[31] We broke up our camp, and returned 
to Rock river. A short time afterwards, the 
fort party received a reinforcement among 
whom we observed some of our old friends 
from St. Louis. 

Soon after our return from fort Madison, 
runners came to our village from the Shawnee 
Prophet* (whilst others were despatched by 
him to the villages of the Winnebagoes,) with 
invitations for us to meet him on the Wabash. 
Accordingly a party went from each village. 

All of our party returned, among whom came 
a Prophet, who explained to us the bad treat 
ment the different nations of Indians had re 
ceived from the Americans, by giving them a 
few presents, and taking their land from them. 
I remember well his saying, "If you do not 
join your friends on the Wabash, the Americans 
will take this very village from you / " I little 
thought, then, that his words would come true ! 

8 The brother of Tecumseh. For an account of 
the enterprise carried on by these two men see 
Quaife, Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673-1835, 
chap. VIII. 


Itife of 2>Iacft 

Supposing that he used these arguments merely 
to encourage us to join him, we agreed that we 
would not. He then returned to the Wabash, 
where a party of Winnebagoes had arrived, 
and preparations were making for war! A 
battle soon ensued, 9 in which several Winne 
bagoes were killed. As soon as their nation 
heard of this battle, and that some of their 
people had been killed, they started war parties 
in different directions. One to the mining 
country; one to Prairie du Chien, and another 
to fort Madison. This last returned by our 
village, and exhibited several scalps which they 
had [32] taken. Their success induced several 
other parties to go against the fort. Myself 
and several of my band joined the last party, 
and were determined to take the fort. 10 We 
arrived in the vicinity during the night. The 
spies that we had sent out several days before, 
to watch the movements of those at the garri 
son, and ascertain their numbers, came to us, 
and gave the following information : That 
a keel-boat had arrived from below that even 
ing, with seventeen men; that there were about 
fifty men in the fort, and that they marched 
out every morning at sunrise, to exercise." 
It was immediately determined that we should 

9 The battle of Tippecanoe, November 7, 1811. 

10 This attack on Fort Madison was begun Septem 
ber 5, 1812, almost a year after the battle of Tippe 
canoe. It was precipitated probably by the fall of 
Detroit, Mackinac, and Fort Dearborn in the summer 
of 1812, rather than by the battle of Tippecanoe. 


Hife of 2&toth l?atoh 

take a position as near as we could, (to conceal 
ourselves,) to the place where the soldiers 
would come; and when the signal was given, 
each man to fire, and then rush into the fort. 
I dug a hole with my knife, deep enough (by 
placing a few weeds around it,) to conceal 
myself. I was so near to the fort that I could 
hear the sentinel walking. By day-break, I 
had finished my work, and was anxiously await 
ing the rising of the sun. The drum beat; I 
examined the priming of my gun, and eagerly 
watched for the gate to open. It did open 
but instead of the troops marching out, a young 
man came alone. The gate closed after him. 
He passed close by me so near that I could 
have killed him with my knife , but I let him pass. 
He kept the path towards the river; and had 
he went one step out of it, he must have come 
upon us, and would have been killed. He 
returned immediately, and entered the gate. 
I [33] would now have rushed for the gate, 
and entered it with him, but I feared that our 
party was not prepared to follow me. 

The gate opened again four men came out, 
and went down to the river after wood. Whilst 
they were gone, another man came out, and 
walked towards the river was fired upon and 
killed by a Winnebago. The others immedi 
ately ran for the fort, and two of them were 
killed. We then took shelter under the bank 
out of reach of fire from the fort. 

The firing now commenced from both parties 

Itife of 25Iacft J^atoft 

and continued all day. I advised our party 
to set fire to the fort, and commenced prepar 
ing arrows for that purpose. At night we 
made the attempt, and succeeded to fire the 
buildings several times, but without effect, as 
the fire was always instantly extinguished. 

The next day I took my rifle, and shot in two 
the cord by which they hoisted their flag, and 
prevented them from raising it again. We 
continued firing until all our ammunition was 
expended; and finding that we could not take 
the fort, returned home, having had one Win- 
nebago killed, and one wounded, during the 
siege. I have since learned that the trader, 
who lived in the fort, wounded the Winnebago 
when he was scalping the first man that was 
killed ! The Winnebago recovered, is now liv 
ing, and is very friendly disposed towards the 
trader, believing him to be a great brave! 

Soon after our return home, news reached 
us that a war was going to take place between 
the British and [34] the Americans. Runners 
continued to arrive from different tribes, all 
confirming the report of the expected war. 
The British agent, Col. Dixon, 11 was holding 

11 Robert Dickson, the British trader, played an 
important role in the West during the War of 1812, 
being very influential in stirring up the Indians to 
assist the British in the war. His relations with 
Black Hawk and the Sacs are set forth in the fol 
lowing pages. A great deal of material upon Dickson 
has been published in the different volumes of the 
Wisconsin Historical Collections. 

Stfe of 25Iacft J^atoft 

talks with, and making presents to, the differ 
ent tribes. I had not made up my mind 
whether to join the British or remain neutral. 
I had not discovered one good trait in the char 
acter of the Americans that had come to the^ 
country! They made fair promises, but never 
fulfilled them! Whilst the British made but 
few but we could always rely upon their word! 
One of our people having killed a Frenchman 
at Prairie du Chien, the British took him pris- N 
oner, and said they would shoot him the next 
day! 12 His family were encamped a short dis 
tance below the mouth of the Ouisconsin. He 
begged for permission to go and see them that 
night, as he was to die the next day! They 
permitted him to go, after promising to return 
the next morning by sunrise. He visited his 
family, which consisted of a wife and six chil 
dren. I cannot describe their meeting and 
parting, to be understood by the whites ; as it 
appears that their feelings are acted upon by 
certain rules laid down by their preachers! 
whilst ours are governed only by the monitor 
within us. He parted from his wife and chil 
dren, hurried through the prairie to the fort, 
and arrived in time! The soldiers were ready, 
and immediately marched out and shot him 

12 This evidently occurred during the British occu 
pation of Prairie du Chien in 1814-15. An enter 
taining account of such an affair is to be found in 
"The Captive," one of a collection of Indian tales 
in William J. Snelling s Tales of the Northwest-, or 
Sketches of Indian Life and Character (Boston, 1830). 


ilife of 25Iacft 

down! I visited his family, and by hunting and 
fishing, provided for them until they reached 
their relations. 

[35] Why did the Great Spirit ever send the 
whites to this island, to drive us from our 
homes, and introduce among us poisonous 
liquors, disease and death? They should have 
remained on the island where the Great Spirit 
first placed them. But I will proceed with 
my story. My memory, however, is not very 
good, since my late visit to the white people. 
I have still a buzzing in my ears, from the 
noise and may give some parts of my story 
out of place ; but I will endeavor to be correct. 

Several of our chiefs and head men were 
called upon to go to Washington, to see their 
Great Father. They started ; and during their 
absence, I went to Peoria, on the Illinois river, 
to see an old friend, a trader, 13 to get his advice. 
He was a man that always told us the truth, 
and knew every thing that was going on. When 
I arrived at Peoria, he was not there, but had 

13 This was Thomas Forsyth who for a decade 
prior to the War of 1812 had been engaged in the fur 
trade at Peoria, operating in partnership with his 
half brother, John Kinzie of Chicago. In April, 
1812, Forsyth was made sub-agent of Indian affairs, 
and during the war labored valiantly to uphold Amer 
ican interests in the region over which he was influ 
ential with the natives. In 1819 he was appointed 
Indian agent at Fort Armstrong (Rock Island), in 
which position he continued until 1830. For much 
material on his career see the volumes of the Wis 
consin Historical Collections. 


ttife of 25Iacft J^atoft 

gone to Chicago. I visited the Pottawatomie 
villages, and then returned to Rock river. 
Soon after which, our friends returned from 
their visit to our Great Father and related 
what had been said and done. Their Great 
Father (they said) wished us, in the event of a 
war taking place with England, not to interfere 
on either side but to remain neutral. He 
did not want our help but wished us to hunt 
and support our families, and live in peace. 14 
He said that British traders would not be per 
mitted to come on the Mississippi, to furnish 
us with goods but we would be well supplied 
by an American trader. 15 Our chiefs [36] then 
told him that the British traders always gave 
us credits in the fall, for guns, powder and 

14 Black Hawk here states fairly the American 
policy with respect to Indian participation in the war 
for several years prior to its commencement and 
for some time after this event. It proved a losing 
policy, however, and before the close of the war the 
Americans, like the British, were actively seeking 
the assistance of the red men. 

15 Due to the insistence of President Washington, 
the American government had established a system 
of government trading houses or "factories" for 
supplying the Indians with goods at fair prices. 
One of these was located at Fort Madison, and the 
"trader" referred to was the factor, a salaried em 
ployee of the government. No comprehensive ac 
count of the government factory system has ever 
been written. For a tentative sketch of its rise and 
fall, written with especial reference to the operations 
of the Chicago factory, see Quaife, op. cit., chap. 


3tife of S&lacfe 

goods, to enable us to hunt, and clothe our 
families. He replied that the trader at fort 
Madison would have plenty of goods that we 
should go there in the fall, and he would sup 
ply us on credit, as the British traders had 
done. The party gave a good account of 
what they had seen, and the kind treatment 
they received. 

This information pleased us all very much. 
We all agreed to follow our Great Father s 
advice, and not interfere with the war. Our 
women were much pleased at this good news. 
Every thing went on cheerfully in our village. 
We resumed our pastimes of playing ball, 
horse racing, and dancing, which had been 
laid aside when this great war was first talked 

We had fine crops of corn, which were now 
ripe and our women were engaged in gather 
ing it, and making cashes to contain it. In a 
short time we were ready to start to fort Madi 
son, to get our supply of goods, that we might 
proceed to our hunting grounds. We passed 
merrily down the river all in high spirits. 
I had determined to spend the winter at my 
old favorite hunting ground, on Skunk river, 
and left part of my corn and mats at its mouth, 
to take up when I returned: others did the 
same. Next morning we arrived at the fort, 
and made our encampment. Myself and prin 
cipal men paid a visit to the war chief at the 
fort. He received us kindly, and gave us 

Htfe of SMacfe 

some [37] tobacco, pipes and provision. The 
trader came in, and we all rose and shook 
hands with him for on him all our depend 
ence was placed, to enable us to hunt, and 
thereby support our families. We waited a 
long time, expecting the trader would tell us 
that he had orders from our Great Father to 
supply us with goods but he said nothing on 
the subject. I got up, and told him, in a short 
speech, what we had come for and hoped he 
had plenty of goods to supply us and told 
him that he should be well paid in the spring 
and concluded, by informing him, that we 
had determined to follow our Great Father s 
advice, and not go to war. 

He said that he was happy to hear that we 
intended to remain at peace. That he had a 
large quantity of goods; and that, if we made 
a good hunt, we would be well supplied: but 
remarked, that he had received no instructions 
to furnish us any thing on credit! nor could 
he give us any without receiving the pay for 
them on the spot! 

We informed him what our Great Father had 
told our chiefs at Washington and contended 
that he could supply us if he would believing 
that our Great Father always spoke the truth! 
But the war chief said that the trader could 
not furnish us on credit and that he had 
received no instructions from our Great Father 
at Washington! We left the fort dissatisfied, 
and went to our camp. What was now to be 

Hife of 25Iacft I^atoft 

done, we knew not. We questioned the party 
that [38] brought us the news from our Great 
Father, that we would get credit for our win 
ter s supplies, at this place. They still told 
the same story, and insisted upon its truth. 
Few of us slept that night all was gloom and 

In the morning, a canoe was seen descend 
ing the river it soon arrived, bearing an 
express, who brought intelligence that La 
Gutrie, a British trader, had landed at Rock 
Island, with two boats loaded with goods 
and requested us to come up immediately 
because he had good news for us and a variety 
of presents. The express presented us with 
tobacco, pipes and wampum. 

The news run through our camp like fire in 
the prairie. Our lodges were soon taken down, 
and all started for Rock Island. Here ended 
all hopes of our remaining at peace having 
been forced into WAR by being DECEIVED! 

Our party were not long in getting to Rock 
Island. When we came in sight, and saw tents 
pitched, we yelled, fired our guns, and com 
menced beating our drums. Guns were im 
mediately fired at the island, returning our 
salute and a British flag hoisted! We landed, 
and were cordially received by La Gutrie 
and then smoked the pipe with him! After 
which he made a speech to us, that had been 
sent by Colonel Dixon, and gave us a number 
of handsome presents a large silk flag, and a 

Sife of SMacft 

keg of rum, and told us to retire take some 
refreshments and rest ourselves, as he would 
have more to say to us on the next day. 

[39] We, accordingly, retired to our lodges, 
(which had been put up in the mean time,) 
and spent the night. The next morning we 
called upon him, and told him that we wanted 
his two boats load of goods to divide among 
our people for which he should be well paid 
in the spring with furs and peltries. He con 
sented told us to take them and do as we 
pleased with them. Whilst our people were 
dividing the goods, he took me aside, and in 
formed me that Col. Dixon was at Green Bay, 
with twelve boats, loaded with goods, guns, 
and ammunition and wished me to raise a 
party immediately and go to him. He said 
that our friend, the trader at Peoria, was col 
lecting the Pottawatomies, and would be there 
before us. I communicated this information 
to my braves, and a party of two hundred war 
riors were soon collected and ready to depart. 

I paid a visit to the lodge of an old friend, 
who had been the comrade of my youth, and 
had been in many war parties with me, but 
was now crippled, and no longer able to 
travel. He had a son that I had adopted as 
my own, who had hunted with me the two 
preceding winters. I wished my old friend to 
let him go with me. He objected, saying that 
he could not get his support if his son left him: 
that I, (who had always provided for him since 

Hife of 2Macfc 

he got lame,) would be gone, and he had no 
other dependence than his son. I offered to 
leave my son in his place but he still refused. 
He said he did not like the war he had been 
[40] down the river, and had been well treated 
by the Americans, and could not fight against 
them. He had promised to winter near a 
white settler above Salt river, and must take 
his son with him. We parted. I soon con 
cluded my arrangements, and started with my 
party to Green Bay. On our arrival there, we 
found a large encampment, and were well re 
ceived by Dixon, and the war chiefs that were 
with him. He gave us plenty of provisions, 
tobacco and pipes, and said he would hold a 
council with us the next day. 

In the encampment, I found a large number 
of Pottowatomies, Kickapoos, Ottawas and 
Winnebagoes. I visited all their camps, and 
found them in high spirits. They had all re 
ceived new guns, ammunition, and a variety of 
clothing. In the evening a messenger came 
to me to visit Col. Dixon. I went to his tent, 
in which were two other war chiefs, and an 
interpreter. He received me with a hearty 
shake of the hand, and presented me to the 
other chiefs, who shook my hand cordially, and 
seemed much pleased to see me. After I was 
seated, Col. Dixon said: "Gen. Black Hawk, 
I sent for you, to explain to you what we are 
going to do, and the reasons that have brought 
us here. Our friend, La Gutrie, informs us 

Eife of 25Iatft 

in the letter you brought from him, what has 
lately taken place. You will now have to hold 
us fast by the hand. Your English father has 
found out that the Americans want to take 
your country from you and has sent me and 
[41] his braves to drive them back to their own 
country. He has, likewise, sent a large quan 
tity of arms and ammunition and we want 
all your warriors to join us." 

He then placed a medal round my neck, 
and gave me a paper, (which I lost in the late 
war,) and a silk flag, saying "You are to 
command all the braves that will leave here 
the day after to-morrow, to join our braves 
near Detroit." 

I told him that I was very much disappointed 
as I wanted to descend the Mississippi, and 
make war upon the settlements. He said he 
had been "ordered to lay the country waste 
around St. Louis that he had been a trader on 
the Mississippi many years had always been 
kindly treated, and could not consent to send 
brave men to murder women and children! That 
there were no soldiers there to fight; but where 
he was going to send us, there were a number of 
soldiers: and, if we defeated them, the Missis 
sippi country should be ours!" I was pleased 
with this speech; it was spoken by a brave! 

I inquired about my old friend, the trader, 

at Peoria, and observed, "that I expected he 

would have been here before me." He shook 

his head, and said he "had sent express after 


Stife of 2Macfc l^atoft 

express to him, and had off ere d him large sums 
of money, to come, and bring all the Pottowat- 
omies and Kickapoos with him; but he refused, 
saying, your British father had not money enough 
to induce him to join us! 1 have now [42] laid 
a trap for him, I have sent Gomo, and a party 
of Indians, to take him prisoner, and bring 
him here alive. 16 I expect him in a few days." 
The next day, arms and ammunition, toma 
hawks, knives, and clothing, were given to 
my band. We had a great feast in the even 
ing; and the morning following, I started with 
about five hundred braves, to join the British 
army. The British war chief accompanied us. 
We passed Chicago. The fort had been evac 
uated by the American soldiers, who had 
marched for fort Wayne. They were attacked 
a short distance from that fort, and defeated! 
They had a considerable quantity of powder 
in the fort at Chicago, which they had prom 
ised to the Indians; but the night before 
they marched, they destroyed it. I think it 
was thrown into the well! If they had ful 
filled their word to the Indians, I think they 
would have gone safe. 17 

16 Gomo was chief of a band Potowatomi residing 
on the Illinois River above Peoria. Throughout the 
war he adhered to the American cause, and was on 
friendly terms with Forsyth. 

17 An interesting opinion, but not necessarily con 
clusive of the question. On the whole subject of the 
Fort Dearborn massacre of August 15, 1812, see 
Quaife, op. ctt., especially chap. XII. 


Jlife of 2Macft 

On our arrival, I found that the Indians 
had several prisoners, I advised them to treat 
them well. We continued our march, and 
joined the British army below Detroit; and 
soon after had a fight ! The Americans fought 
well, and drove us with considerable loss! I 
was surprised at this, as I had been told that 
the Americans could not fight! 

Our next movement was against a fortified 
place. I was stationed, with my braves, to 
prevent any person going to, or coming from 
the fort. I found two men taking care of 
cattle, and took them prisoners. I would not 
kill them, but delivered them to the British [43] 
war chief. Soon after, several boats came 
down the river, full of American soldiers. 
They landed on the opposite side, took the 
British batteries, and pursued the soldiers that 
had left them. They went too far, without 
knowing the forces of the British, and were 
defeated! I hurried across the river, anxious 
for an opportunity to show the courage of my 
braves; but before we reached the ground, all 
was over! The British had taken many pris 
oners, and the Indians were killing them! I 
immediately put a stop to it, as I never thought 
it brave, but cowardly, to kill an unarmed and 
helpless enemy! 

We remained here some time. I cannot 
detail what took place, as I was stationed, with 
my braves, in the woods. It appeared, how 
ever, that the British could not take this fort 

Hifc of 2Wacft 

for we were marched to another some distance 
off. When we approached it, I found it a 
small stockade, and concluded that there were 
not many men in it. The British war chief sent 
a flag Colonel Dixon carried it, and returned. 
He said a young war chief commanded, and 
would not give up without fighting! Dixon 
came to me and said, "you will see, to-morrow, 
how easily we will take that fort." I was of 
opinion that they would take it; but when the 
morning came, I was disappointed. The Brit 
ish advanced commenced an attack, and 
fought like braves; but by braves in the 
fort, were defeated, and a great number killed! 
The British army were making preparations to 
retreat. I [44] was now tired of being with 
them our success being bad, and having got 
no plunder. I determined on leaving them 
and returning to Rock river, to see what had 
become of my wife and children, as I had not 
heard from them since I started. That night, 
I took about twenty of my braves, and left the 
British camp for home. We met no person 
on our journey until we reached the Illinois 
river. Here we found two lodges of Pottawat- 
omies. They received us very friendly, and 
gave us something to eat; and inquired about 
their friends that were with the British. They 
said there had been some fighting on the Illinois, 
and that my old friend, the trader at Peoria, 
had been taken prisoner! "By Gomo and his 
party?" I immediately inquired. They said 

te of 25Iacft f atofe 

"no; but by the Americans, who came up with 
two boats. They took him and the French 
settlers, and then burnt the village of Peoria." 18 
They could give us no news respecting our 
people on Rock river. In three days more, we 
were in the vicinity of our village, when I dis 
covered a smoke ascending from a hollow in 
the bluffs. I directed my party to proceed to 
the village, as I wished to go alone to the 
place from whence the smoke proceeded, to 
see who was there. I approached the spot, 
and when I came in view of the fire, saw a mat 
stretched, and an old man sitting under it in 
sorrow. At any other time, I would have 
turned away without disturbing him knowing 
that he had come there to be alone t to humble 
himself before [45] the Great Spirit, that He 
might take pity on him! I approached and 
seated myself beside him. He gave one look 
at me, and then fixed his eyes on the ground! 
// was my old friend ! I anxiously inquired 
for his son, (my adopted child,) and what had 
befallen our people ? My old comrade seemed 
scarcely alive he must have fasted a long time . 
I lighted my pipe, and put it in his mouth. He 
eagerly drew a few puffs cast up his eyes, 
which met mine, and recognized me. His eyes 
were glassy! He would again have fallen off 
into forgetfulness, had I not given him some 

18 The old French village at Peoria was plundered 
and burned early in November, 1812, by a force of 
Illinois militia under Captain Thomas E. Craig. 


3life of SWacft J^atoft 

water, which revived him. I again inquired, 
"what has befallen our people, and what has 
become of our son? " 

In a feeble voice, he said: " Soon after your 
departure to join the British, I descended the 
river with a small party, to winter at the place 
I told you the white man had requested me to 
come to. When we arrived, I found a fort 
built, and the white family that had invited me 
to come and hunt near them, had removed to 
it. I then paid a visit to the fort, to tell the 
white people that myself and little band were 
friendly, and that we wished to hunt in the 
vicinity of their fort. The war chief who com 
manded it, told me, that we might hunt on the 
Illinois side of the Mississippi, and no person 
would trouble us. That the horsemen only 
ranged on the Missouri side, and he had directed 
them not to cross the river. I was pleased 
with this assurance of safety, and immediately 
crossed over and made my winter s camp. 
Game was plenty; we liv-[46]ed happy, and 
often talked of you. My boy regretted your 
absence, and the hardships you would have 
to undergo. We had been here about two 
moons, when my boy went out, as usual, to 
hunt. Night came on, and he did not return! 
I was alarmed for his safety, and passed a 
sleepless night. In the morning, my old woman 
went to the other lodges and gave the alarm 
and all turned out in pursuit. There being 
snow on the ground, they soon came upon his 

ffiifc of SMacfc i^atoft 

track, and after pursuing it some distance , 
found he was on the trail of a deer, that led 
towards the river. They soon came to the 
place where he had stood and fired, and found a 
deer hanging upon the branch of a tree, which 
had been skinned. But here were found the 
tracks of white men ! They had taken my boy 
prisoner. Their tracks led across the river, 
and then down towards the fort. My friends 
followed them, and soon found my boy lying 
dead! He had been most cruelly murdered! 
His face was shot to pieces his body stabbed 
in several places and his head scalped ! His 
arms were tied behind him!" 

The old man paused for some time, and 
then told me that his wife had died on her way 
up the Mississippi! I took the hand of my 
old friend in mine, and pledged myself to 
avenge the death of his son! It was now dark 
a terrible storm commenced raging, with 
heavy torrents of rain, thunder and lightning. 
I had taken my blanket off and wrapped it 
around the old man. When the storm abated, 
I kindled a fire, [47] and took hold of my old 
friend to remove him near to it but he was 
dead! I remained with him the balance of the 
night. Some of my party came early in the 
morning to look for me, and assisted me in 
burying him on the peak of the bluff. I then 
returned to the village with my friends. I vis 
ited the grave of my old friend the last time, 
as I ascended Rock river. 

Eife of SMacft 

On my arrival at the village, I was met by 
the chiefs and braves, and conducted to a lodge 
that had been prepared to receive me. After 
eating, I gave an account of what I had seen 
and done. I explained to them the manner 
the British and Americans fought. Instead of 
stealing upon each other, and taking every 
advantage to kill the enemy and save their own 
people, as we do, (which, with us, is consid 
ered good policy in a war chief,) they marched 
out, in open daylight, and fight, regardless of 
the number of warriors they may lose ! After 
the battle is over, they retire to feast, and drink 
wine, as if nothing had happened; after which, 
they make a statement in writing, of what they 
have done each party claiming the victory ! 
and neither giving an account of half the num 
ber that have been killed on their own side. 
They all fought like braves, but would not do 
to lead a war party with us. Our maxim is, 
"to kill the enemy and save our own men." 
Those chiefs would do to paddle a canoe, but 
not to steer it. The Americans shoot better 
than the British, but their soldiers are not so 
well clothed, or provided for. 

[48] The village chief informed me that after 
I started with my braves and the parties who 
followed, the nation was reduced to so small a 
party of fighting men, that they would have 
been unable to defend themselves, if the Amer 
icans had attacked them; that all the women 
and children, and old men, belonging to the 

Jtife of 25lach f atoft 

warriors who had joined the British, were left 
with them to provide for; and that a council 
was held, which agreed that Quash-qua-me, 
the Lance, and other chiefs, with the old men, 
women, and children, and such others as chose 
to accompany them, should descend the Mis 
sissippi and go to St. Louis, and place them 
selves under the protection of the American 
chief stationed there. They accordingly went 
down to St. Louis, and were received as the 
friendly band of our nation sent up the Mis 
souri, and provided for, whilst their friends 
were assisting the British ! 

Ke-o-kuck was then introduced to me as the 
war-chief of the braves then in the village. 19 
I inquired how he had become a chief. They 
said that a large armed force was seen by their 
spies, going towards Peoria; that fears were 
entertained that they would come upon and at 
tack our village; and that a council had been 
convened to decide upon the best course to be 
adopted, which concluded upon leaving the 
village and going on the west side of the Mis 
sissippi, to get out of the way. Ke-o-kuck, 

19 Although not a chief by birth, Keokuk rose by 
the exercise of political talents to a position of 
leadership in his tribe. He followed the policy of 
favoring the Americans. Black Hawk regarded him, 
therefore, with especial dislike, a feeling which was 
heightened, no doubt, by the element of personal 
rivalry between the two. In the end Keokuk triumph 
ed over his rival, his victory being consolidated by 
the fatal result, for Black Hawk, of his war of 1832. 


Hife of 2>lach 

during the sitting of the council, had been 
standing at the door of the lodge, (not being 
allowed to enter, having never killed an en-[4Q] 
emy,) where he remained until old Wa-co-me 
came out. He then told him that he had heard 
what they had decided upon, and was anxious 
to be permitted to go in and speak, before the 
council adjourned! Wa-co-me returned, and 
asked leave for Ke-o-kuck to come in and make 
a speech. His request was granted. Ke-o- 
kuck entered, and addressed the chiefs. He 
said, " I have heard with sorrow, that you have 
determined to leave our village, and cross the 
Mississippi, merely because you have been told 
that the Americans were seen coming in this 
direction ! Would you leave our village, desert 
our homes, and fly, before an enemy approaches? 
Would you leave all even the graves of our 
fathers, to the mercy of an enemy, without 
trying to defend them? Give me charge of 
your warriors; I ll defend the village, and you 
may sleep in safety!" 

The council consented that Ke-o-kuck should 
be a war-chief. He marshalled his braves 
sent out spies and advanced with a party him 
self, on the trail leading to Peoria. They return 
ed without seeing an enemy. The Americans 
did not come by our village . All were well satis 
fied with the appointment of Ke-o-kuck. He 
used every precaution that our people should 
not be surprised. This is the manner in which, 
and the cause of, his receiving the appointment. 

Hife of 2Marft f atoft 

I was satisfied, and then started to visit my 
wife and children. I found them well, and my 
boys were [50] growing finely. It is not cus 
tomary for us to say much about our women, 
as they generally perform their part cheerfully, 
and never interfere with business belonging to 
the men! This is the only wife I ever had, or 
ever will have. She is a good woman, and 
teaches my boys to be brave! Here I would 
have rested myself, and enjoyed the comforts 
of my lodge, but I could not: I had promised 
to avenge the death of my adopted son! 

I immediately collected a party of thirty 
braves, and explained to them my object in 
making this war party it being to avenge the 
death of my adopted son, who had been cruelly 
and wantonly murdered by the whites. I ex 
plained to them the pledge I had made his father, 
and told them that they were the last words 
that he had heard spoken ! All were willing to 
go with me, to fulfil my word. We started in 
canoes, and descended the Mississippi, until 
we arrived near the place where fort Madison 
had stood. It had been abandoned by the 
whites and burnt; nothing remained but the 
chimneys. We were pleased to see that the 
white people had retired from our country. 
We proceeded down the river again. I landed, 
with one brave, near Capo Gray; 20 the remain- 

20 Cap (Cape) au Gris, a rocky promontory on the 
Illinois bank of the Mississippi about a dozen miles 
above the mouth of Cuivre River. Opposite it, on 


life of 25Iaeft 

der of the party went to the mouth of the 
Quiver. I hurried across to the trail that led 
from the mouth of the Quiver to a fort, and 
soon after heard firing at the mouth of the 
creek. Myself and brave concealed ourselves 
on the side of the road. We had not re 
mained [51] here long, before two men riding 
one horse, came in full speed from the direc 
tion of the sound of the firing. When they 
came sufficiently near, we fired; the horse 
jumped, and both men fell! We rushed to 
wards them one rose and ran. I followed 
him, and was gaining on him, when he ran over 
a pile of rails that had lately been made, seized 
a stick, and struck at me. I now had an oppor 
tunity to see his face I knew him! He 
had been at Quash-qua-me s village to learn 
his people how to plough. We looked upon 
him as a good man. I did not wish to kill him, 

the Missouri bank, was built a fort, manned by 
Missouri rangers. Not many miles away, in the 
vicinity of Fort Howard, occurred the locally famous 
Battle of the Sink Hole in May, 1815, Black Hawk s 
account of which is given in the following pages. 
An interesting account of this battle, written by a 
participant on the other side, is printed in Wisconsin 
Historical Collections, II, 213-18. The author char 
acterizes Black Hawk s account as "quite strange 
and confused," and supposes him to have described 
here what really occurred to him at another time. 
While this may be true in part, it is evident from a 
comparison of the narratives that Black Hawk was 
in the Sink Hole Battle and that he gives an account 
of it which is at least partially correct. 

Slife of SSiacfc f atoft 

and pursued him no further. I returned and 
met my brave ; he said he had killed the other 
man, and had his scalp in his hand! We had 
not proceeded far, before we met the man, 
supposed to be killed, coming up the road, 
staggering like a drunken man, all covered with 
blood! This was the most terrible sight I had 
ever seen. I told my comrade to kill him, to 
put him out of his misery! I could not look 
at him. I passed on, and heard a rustling in 
the bushes, and distinctly saw two little boys 
concealing themselves! I thought of my own 
children, and passed on without noticing them! 
My comrade here joingd me, and in a little 
while we met the balance of our party. I told 
them that we would be pursued, and directed 
them to follow me. We crossed the creek, 
and formed ourselves in the timber. We had 
not been here long, before a party of mounted 
men rushed at full speed upon us! I took 
deliberate aim, and shot the man [52] leading 
the party. He fell from his horse lifeless ! All 
my people fired, but without effect. The en 
emy rushed upon us without giving us time to 
reload. They surrounded us, and forced us 
to run into a deep sink-hole, at the bottom of 
which there were some bushes. We loaded 
our guns, and awaited the approach of the 
enemy. They rushed to the edge of the hole 
and fired, killing one of our men. We returned 
the fire instantly, and killed one of their party! 
We reloaded, and commenced digging holes in 

Ilife of SSIatft l^atoft 

the side of the bank to protect ourselves, whilst 
a party watched the movements of the enemy, 
expecting that their whole force would be upon 
us immediately. Some of my warriors com 
menced singing their death-songs! I heard the 
whites talking and called to them, "to come 
out and fight!" I did not like my situation, 
and wished the matter settled. I soon heard 
chopping and knocking. I could not imagine 
what they were doing. Soon after they run up 
wheels with a battery on it, and fired down 
without hurting any of us. I called to them 
again, and told them if they were "brave men, 
to come down and fight* us. They gave up the 
siege, and returned to their fort about dusk. 
There were eighteen in this trap with me. We 
all got out safe, and found one white man dead 
on the edge of the sink-hole. They did not 
remove him, for fear of our fire. We scalped 
him, and placed our dead man upon him! We 
could not have left him in a better situation, 
than on an enemy! 

[53] We had now effected our purpose, and 
started back by land thinking it unsafe to 
return in our canoes. I found my wife and 
children, and the greater part of our people, 
at the mouth of the loway river. I now deter 
mined to remain with my family, and hunt for 
them; and humble myself before the Great 
Spirit, and return thanks to him for preserving 
me through the war! 

I made my hunting camp on English river, 

ife of SMacft 

(a branch of the loway.) During the winter 
a party of Pottawatomies came from the Illinois 
to pay me a visit among them was Wash-e- 
own, an old man, that had formerly lived in 
our village. He informed us, that, in the fall, 
the Americans had built a fort at Peoria, and 
had prevented them from going down to the 
Sangomo to hunt. He said they were very 
much distressed that Gomo had returned 
from the British army, and brought news of 
their defeat near Maiden; and told us that he 
went to the American chief with a flag; gave 
up fighting, and told the chief that he wished 
to make peace for his nation. The American 
chief gave him a paper for the war chief at the 
fort at Peoria, and I visited that fort with Gomo. 
It was then agreed that there should be no more 
fighting between the Americans and Pottawat 
omies; and that two of their chiefs, and eight 
braves, with five Americans, had gone down 
to St. Louis to have the peace confirmed. This, 
said Wash-e-own, is good news; for we can 
now go to our hunting-grounds: [54] and, for 
my part, I never had anything to do with this 
war. The Americans never killed any of our 
people before the war, nor interfered with our 
hunting grounds; and I resolved to do nothing 
against them! I made no reply to these re 
marks, as the speaker was old, and talked like 
a child! 

We gave the Pottawatomies a feast. I pre 
sented Wash-e-own with a good horse; my 

Sife of 22lacft i^atoft 

braves gave one to each of his party, and, at 
parting, they said they wished us to make peace 

which we did not promise but told them 
that we would not send out war parties against 
the settlements. 

A short time after the Pottawatomies left, a 
party of thirty braves, belonging to our nation, 
from the peace camp on the Missouri, paid us a 
visit. They exhibited five scalps, which they 
had taken on the Missouri, and wished us to 
dance over them, which we willingly joined in. 
They related the manner in which they had 
taken these scalps. Myself and braves then 
showed the two we had taken, near the Quiver, 
and told them the reason that induced that war 
party to go out; as well as the manner, and 
difficulty we had in obtaining these scalps. 

They recounted to us all that had taken place 

the number that had been killed by the peace 
party, as they were called and recognized 
which far surpassed what our warriors, who 
had joined the British, had done! This party 
came for the pur- [5 5] pose of joining the Brit 
ish! I advised them to return to the peace 
party, and told them the news that the Potta 
watomies had brought. They returned to the 
Missouri, accompanied by some of my braves, 
whose families were with the peace party. 

After sugar-making was over, in the spring, 

I visited the Fox village, at the lead mines. 

They had nothing to do with the war, and 

were not in mourning. I remained there some 


Eife of 25lacft l^atoft 

days, and spent my time pleasantly with them, 
in dancing and feasting. I then paid a visit 
to the Pottawatomie village, on the Illinois 
river, and learned that Sa-na-tu-wa and Ta- 
ta-puc-key had been to St. Louis. Gomo told 
me "that peace had been made between his 
people and the Americans, and that seven of 
his party remained with the war chief to make 
the peace stronger!" He then told me that 
" Wash-e-own was dead! That he had been 
to the fort, to carry some wild fowl, to ex 
change for tobacco, pipes, etc. That he 
had got some tobacco and a little flour, and 
left the fort before sun-down; but had not 
proceeded far before he was shot dead, by a 
war chief who had concealed himself near the 
path, for that purpose! and then dragged 
him to the lake and threw him in, where I 
afterwards found him. I have since given 
two horses and my rifle to his relations, not to 
break the peace which they had agreed to." 

I remained some time at the village with 
Gomo, and [56] went with him to the fort to 
pay a visit to the war chief. I spoke the Pot 
tawatomie tongue well, and was taken for one 
of their people by the chief. He treated us 
very friendly, and said he was very much dis 
pleased about the murder of Wash-e-own, 
and would find out, and punish the person that 
killed him. He made some inquiries about 
the Sacs, which I answered. 

On my return to Rock river, I was informed 

itife of 25Iath l^atofe 

that a party of soldiers had gone up the Mis 
sissippi to build a fort at Prairie du Chien. 
They had stopped near our village, and ap 
peared to be friendly, and were kindly treated 
by our people. 

We commenced repairing our lodges, putting 
our village in order, and clearing our corn 
fields. We divided the fields of the party on 
the Missouri, among those that wanted, on 
condition that they should be relinquished to 
the owners, when they returned from iht peace 
establishment. We were again happy in our 
village: our women went cheerfully 10 work, 
and all moved on harmoniously. 

Some time afterwards, five or six boats 
arrived, loaded with soldiers, going to Prairie 
du Chien, to reinforce the garrison. They 
appeared friendly, and were well received. 
We held a council with the war chief. We 
had no intention of hurting him, or any of his 
party, or we could easily have defeated them. 
They remained with us all day, and used, and 
gave us, plenty of whiskey! During the night 
a party [57] arrived, (who came down Rock 
river,) and brought us six kegs of powder! 
They told us that the British had gone to Prai 
rie du Chien, and taken the fort, and wished us 
to join them again in the war, which we agreed 
to. I collected my warriors, and determined 
to pursue the boats, which had sailed with a 
fair wind. If we had known the day before, 
we could easily have taken them all, as the 

Hife of 25Iatft 

war chief used no precautions to prevent it. 
I immediately started with my party, by land, 
in pursuit thinking that some of their boats 
might get aground, or that the Great Spirit 
would put them in our power, if he wished 
them taken, and their people killed! About 
half way up the rapids, I had a full view of the 
boats, all sailing with a strong wind. I soon 
discovered that one boat was badly managed, 
and was suffered to be driven ashore by the 
wind. They landed, by running hard aground, 
and lowered their sail. The others passed on. 
This boat the Great Spirit gave us! We ap 
proached it cautiously, and fired upon the men 
on shore. All that could, hurried aboard, but 
they were unable to push off, being fast 
aground. We advanced to the river s bank, 
under cover, and commenced firing at the 
boat. Our balls passed through the plank, 
and did execution, as I could hear them scream 
ing in the boat! I encouraged my braves to 
continue firing. Several guns were fired from 
the boat, without effect. I prepared my bow 
and arrows to throw fire to the sail, which was 
lying on the boat; and, after two or three at 
tempts, succeeded in setting the sail on fire. 

[58] The boat was soon in flames! About 
this time, one of the boats that had passed, 
returned, dropped anchor, and swung in close 
to the boat on fire, and took off all the people, 
except those killed and badly wounded. We 
could distinctly see them passing from one 

itife of 2Macft 

boat to the other, and fired on them with good 
aim. We wounded the war chief in this way! 
Another boat now came down, dropped her 
anchor, which did not take hold, and was 
drifted ashore ! The other boat cut her cable 
and rowed down the river, leaving their com 
rades without attempting to assist them. We 
then commenced an attack upon this boat, and 
fired several rounds. They did not return the 
fire. We thought they were afraid, or had 
but a small number on board. I therefore 
ordered a rush to the boat. When we got 
near, they fired, and killed two of our people, 
being all that we lost in the engagement. 
Some of their men jumped out and pushed off 
the boat, and thus got away without losing a 
man! I had a good opinion of this war chief 
he managed so much better than the other. 
It would give me pleasure to shake him by the 
hand. 21 

We now put out the fire on the captured 
boat, to save the cargo; when a skiff was dis 
covered coming down the river. Some of our 
people cried out, "here comes an express 
from Prairie du Chien!" We hoisted the 
British flag, but they would not land. They 
turned their little boat around, and rowed up 
the river. We directed a few shots at them, 

21 For the contemporary American account of this 
battle, as printed in the Missouri Gazette, July 30, 
1814, see Frank E. Stevens, The Black Hawk War 
(Chicago, 1903), 48-50. 


I! iff of 

in order to bring them /<?y but they were so 
far off that we could [59] not hurt them. I 
found several barrels of whiskey on the cap 
tured boat, and knocked in their heads and 
emptied out the bad medicine! I next found 
a box full of small bottles and packages, which 
appeared to be bad medicine also; such as the 
medicine-men kill the white people with when 
they get sick. This I threw into the river ; 
and continuing my search for plunder, found 
several guns, large barrels full of clothing, 
and some cloth lodges, all of which I distrib 
uted among my warriors. We now disposed 
of the dead, and returned to the Fox village, 
opposite the lower end of Rock Island; where 
we put up our new lodges and hoisted the British 
flag. A great many of our braves were dressed 
in the uniform clothing which we had taken, 
which gave our encampment the appearance of 
a regular camp of soldiers! We placed out 
sentinels, and commenced dancing over the 
scalps we had taken. Soon after, several boats 
passed down; among them, a large boat carry 
ing big guns! Our young men followed them 
some distance, firing at them, but could not 
do much damage, more than to frighten them. 
We were now certain that the fort at Prairie 
du Chien had been taken, as this large boat 
went up with the first party, who built the fort. 
In the course of the day some of the British 
came down in a small boat; they had followed 
the large one, thinking she would get fast in 

Hife of SMacft i^atoft 

the rapids, in which case they were certain of 
taking her. They had summoned her on the 
way down to surrender, but [60] she refused; 
and now, that she had passed over the rapids 
in safety, all hope of taking her had vanished. 

The British landed a big gun, and gave us 
three soldiers to manage it. They compli 
mented us for our bravery in taking the boat, 
and told us what they had done at Prairie du 
Chien; 22 gave us a keg of rum, and joined with 
us in our dancing and feasting! We gave 
them some things which we had taken from 
the boat particularly books and papers. 
They started the next morning, after promis 
ing to return in a few days with a large body 
of soldiers. 

We went to work, under the directions of 
the men left with us, and dug up the ground in 
two places, to put the big gun in, that the men 
might remain in with it, and be safe. We 
then sent spies down the river to reconnoitre, 
who sent word by a runner, that several boats 
were coming up, filled with men. I marshalled 

22 For a sketch of the British-American military 
operations centering at Prairie du Chien during the 
War of 1812, see Reuben G. Thwaites, Wisconsin, 
The Americanization of a French Common-wealth ( Bos 
ton, 1908), 172-78; also the article entitled "Credit 
Island, 1814-1914," in Journal of the Illinois State 
Historical Society, for January, 1915. A large amount 
of documentary material pertaining to the subject 
has been printed in the volumes of the Wisconsin 
Historical Collections. 


3tife of 25lacfe J^atofe 

my forces, and was soon ready for their arrival, 
and resolved to fight as we had not yet had 
a fair fight with the Americans during the war. 
The boats arrived in the evening, and stopped 
at a small willow island, nearly opposite to us. 
During the night we removed our big gun 
further down, and at daylight next morning, 
commenced firing. We were pleased to see 
that almost every fire took effect, striking the 
boats nearly every shot. They pushed off as 
quick as possible; and I expected would land 
and give a fight. I was prepared to meet them 
but was soon sadly disap-\b\\pointed\ the 
boats having all started down the river. A party 
of braves followed to watch where they landed; 
but they did not stop until they got below 
the Des Moines rapids, when they landed, and 
commenced building a fort. 
(j collected a few braves, and started to the 
place where it was reported they were making 
a fort. 23 I did not want a fort in our country, 
as we wished to go down in the fall, to the 
Two-River country, to hunt it being our best 
hunting ground; and we concluded, that if this 
fort was established, we should be prevented 
from going to our hunting ground. I arrived 
in the vicinity of the fort in the evening, and 

23 Fort Johnson, near modern Warsaw, Hancock 
County, 111., built by Major Zachary Taylor after his 
repulse at Black Hawk s hands near Rock Island. 
In October of the same year the fort was abandoned 
and burned. 


of 23laclt 

stopped for the night, on the peak of a high bluff. 
We made no fire, for fear of being observed. 
Our young men kept watch by turns, whilst the 
others slept. I was very tired, and soon went 
to sleep. The Great Spirit, during my slum 
ber, told me to go down the bluff to a creek 

that I would there find a hollow tree cut 
down; to look into the top of it, and I would 
see a large snake to observe the direction he 
was looking, and I would see the enemy close 
by, and unarmed. In the morning, I commu 
nicated to my braves what the Great Spirit had 
told me; and took one of them and went down 
a hollow that led to the creek, and soon came in 
sight of the place, on an opposite hill, where 
they were building the fort. I saw a great 
many men. We crawled cautiously on our 
hands and knees, until we got into the bottom 

then, through the [62] grass and weeds, 
until we reached the bank of the creek. Here 
I found a tree that had been cut down. I 
looked in the top of it, and saw a large snake, 
with his head raised, looking across the creek. I 
raised myself cautiously, and discovered, nearly 
opposite to me, two war chiefs walking arm-in 
arm, without guns. They turned, and walked 
back towards the place where the men were 
working at the fort. In a little while they 
returned, walking immediately towards the 
spot where we lay concealed but did not 
come as near as before. If they had, they 
would have been killed for each of us had a 


Sife of 2Macft f atoft 

good rifle. We crossed the creek, and crawled 
to a bunch of bushes. I again raised myself a 
little, to see if they were coming; but they 
went into the fort. By this they saved their 

We recrossed the creek; and I returned 
alone going up the hollow we came down. 
My brave went down the creek; and, on rising 
a hill to the left of the one we came down, I 
could plainly see the men at work; and discov 
ered, in the bottom, near the mouth of the 
creek, a sentinel walking. I watched him 
attentively, to see if he perceived my com 
panion, who had gone towards him. The 
sentinel walked first one way and then back 
again. I observed my brave creeping towards 
him. The sentinel stopped for some time, and 
looked in the direction where my brave was 
concealed. He laid still, and did not move the 
grass; and, as the sentinel turned to walk, my 
[63] brave fired and he fell! I looked towards 
the fort, and saw that they were all in confusion 
running in every direction some down a 
steep bank to a boat. My comrade joined me, 
and we returned to the rest of our party, and all 
hurried back to Rock river, where we arrived 
in safety at our village. I hung up my med 
icine bag, put away my rifle and spear, and felt 
as if I should not want them again, as I had 
no wish to raise any more war parties against 
the whites, without they gave new provocation. 
Nothing particular happened from this time 

Hife of 25Iatft I^atoft 

until spring, except news that the fort below 
the rapids had been abandoned and burnt by 
the Americans. 

Soon after I returned from my wintering 
ground, we received information that peace had 
been made between the British and Americans, 
and that we were required to make peace also 
and were invited to go down to Portage des 
Sioux, for that purpose. 24 Some advised that 
we should go down others that we should 
not. No-mite, our principal civil chief, said 
he would go, as soon as the Foxes came down 
from the Mines. They came, and we all 
started from Rock river. We had not gone 
far, before our chief was taken sick. We 
stopped with him at the village on Henderson 
river. The Foxes went on, and we were to 
follow as soon as our chief got better; but he 
continued to get worse, and died. His brother 
now became the principal chief. He refused 

24 On the conclusion of peace with Great Britain, 
there remained the task of restoring peaceful rela 
tions between the United States and the numerous 
hostile tribes along the northern and western frontier. 
For this purpose two sets of commissioners were 
sent, one to Spring Wells near Detroit, the other to 
Portage des Sioux above St. Louis. The members 
of the latter were Governor Clark of Missouri, Gov 
ernor Edwards of Illinois, and Auguste Chouteau of 
St. Louis. About a score of treaties were negoti 
ated with as many tribes during the summer of 1815. 
Certain of the Sacs and Foxes still maintained a 
belligerent attitude, however, and were not brought 
to sign a treaty until the following year. 

Eife of 25Iatft 

to go down saying, that if he started, he 
would be taken sick and [64] die, as his brother 
had done which was reasonable! We all 
concluded, that none of us would go at this 

The Foxes returned. They said they "had 
smoked the pipe of peace with the Americans, 
and expected that a war party would be sent 
against us, because we did not go down. This 
I did not believe; as the Americans had always 
lost by their war parties that came against us. 

La Gutrie, and other British traders, arrived 
at our village on Rock river, in the fall. La 
Gutrie told us, that we must go down and 
make peace that it was the wish of our Eng 
lish father. He said he wished us to go down 
to the Two-River country 25 to winter where 
game was plenty, as there had been no hunting 
there for several years. 

Having heard that a principal war chief, 
with troops, had come up, and commenced 
building a fort near Rapids des Moines, we 
consented to go down with the traders, to see 
the American chief, and tell him the reason 
why we had not been down sooner. We 
arrived at the head of the rapids. Here the 
traders left their goods and boats, except one, 
in which they accompanied us to the Amer 
icans. We visited the war chief, (he was on 
board of a boat,) and told him what we 

25 Probably this was the territory drained by the 
Fabius River. 


Sife of 25Iacft 

had to say explaining the reason we had 
not been down sooner. He appeared angry, 
and talked to La Gutrie for some time. I in 
quired of him, what the war chief said ? He 
told me that he was threatening to [65] hang 
him up on the yard-arm of his boat. "But," 
said he, "I am not afraid of what he says. 
He dare not put his threats into execution. 
I have done no more than I had a right to do, 
as a British subject." 

I then addressed the chief, asking permis 
sion for ourselves and some Menomonees, to 
go down to the Two-River country to hunt. 
He said, we might go down, but must return 
before the ice made, as he did not intend that 
we should winter below the fort. "But," 
said he, " what do you want the Menomonees to 
go with you for?" I did not know, at first, 
what reply to make but told him that they 
had a great many pretty squaws with them, 
and we wished them to go with us on that 
account ! He consented. We all started down 
the river, and remained all winter, as we had 
no intention of returning before spring, when 
we asked leave to go. We made a good hunt. 
Having loaded our traders boats with furs and 
peltries, they started to Mackinac, and we 
returned to our village. 

There is one circumstance which I omitted 
to mention in its proper place. It does not 
relate to myself or people, but to my friend 
Gomo, the Pottowatomie chief. He came to 


atife of S&Iacft f atofe 

Rock river to pay me a visit. During his 
stay, he related to me the following story: 

"The war chief at Peoria is a very good 
man; he always speaks the truth, and treats 
our people well. He sent for me one day, 
and told me that he was nearly out of provi 
sion, and wished me to send my young men 
out to hunt, to supply his fort. I promised to 
do [66] so; and immediately returned to my 
camp, and told my young men the wishes and 
wants of the war chief. They readily, agreed 
to go and hunt for our friend; and soon re 
turned with about twenty deer. They carried 
them to the fort, laid them down at the gate, 
and returned to our camp. A few days after 
wards, I went again to the fort to see if they 
wanted more meat. The chief gave me some 
powder and lead, and said he wished me to 
send my hunters out again. When I returned 
to my camp, and told my young men that the 
chief wanted more meat, Ma-ta-tah, one of my 
principal braves, said he would take a party 
and go across the Illinois, about one day s 
travel, where game was plenty, and make a 
good hunt for our friend, the war chief. He 
took eight hunters with him; his wife and sev 
eral other squaws accompanied them. They 
had travelled about half the day in the prairie, 
when they discovered a party of white men 
coming towards them with a drove of cattle. 
Our hunters apprehended no danger, or they 
would have kept out of the way of the whites, 

Slife of 2Macft fatoft 

(who had not yet perceived them.) Ma-ta-tah 
changed his course, as he wished to meet and 
speak to the whites. As soon as the whites 
saw our party, some of them put off at full 
speed, and came up to our hunters. Ma-ta- 
tah gave up his gun to them, and endeavored 
to explain to them that he was friendly, and 
was hunting for the war chief. They were 
not satisfied with this, but fired at and wounded 
him. He got into the branch of a tree that 
had been blown down, to [67] keep the horses 
from running over him. He was again fired 
on by several guns and badly wounded. He 
found that he would be murdered, (if not 
mortally wounded already,) and sprung at 
the nearest man to him, seized his gun, and 
shot him from his horse. He then fell, cov- 
vered with blood from his wounds, and almost 
instantly expired! 

"The other hunters, being in the rear of 
Ma-ta-tah, seeing that the whites had killed 
him, endeavored to make their escape. They 
were pursued, and nearly all the party mur 
dered! My youngest brother brought me the 
news in the night, he having been with the 
hunters, and got but slightly wounded. He 
said the whites had abandoned their cattle, and 
gone back towards the settlement. The re 
mainder of the night was spent in lamenting 
for the death of our friends. At daylight, I 
blacked my face, and started to the fort to see 
the war chief. I met him at the gate, and 

ife of SWacft 

told him what had happened. His counte 
nance changed; I could see sorrow depicted in 
it for the death of my people. He tried to 
persuade me that I was mistaken, as he could 
not believe that the whites would act so cruelly. 
But when I convinced him, he told me that 
those cowards who had murdered my people 
should be punished. I told him that my 
people would have revenge that they would 
not trouble any of his people of the fort, as 
we did not blame him or any of his soldiers 
but that a party of my braves would go towards 
the Wabash to avenge the death of their friends 
and [68] relations. The next day I took a 
party of hunters and killed several deer, and 
left them at the fort gate as I passed." 

Here Gomo ended his story. I could relate 
many similar ones that have come within my 
own knowledge and observation; but I dislike 
to look back and bring on sorrow afresh. I 
will resume my narrative. 

The great chief at St. Louis having sent 
word for us to go down and confirm the treaty 
of peace, we did not hesitate, but started im 
mediately, that we might smoke the peace-pipe 
with him. On our arrival, we met the great 
chiefs in council. They explained to us the 
words of our Great Father at Washington, 
accusing us of heinous crimes and divers misde 
meanors, particularly in not coming down when 
first invited. We knew very well that our 
Great Father had deceived us, and thereby 


Itife of 25Iatft l^atoft 

forced us to join the British, and could not 
believe that he had put this speech into the 
mouths of these chiefs to deliver to us. I was 
not a civil chief, and consequently made no 
reply: but our chiefs told the commissioners 
that "what they had said was a lie! that our 
Great Father had sent no such speech, he 
knowing the situation in which we had been 
placed had been caused by him! The white 
chiefs appeared very angry at this reply, and 
said they "would break off the treaty with us, 
and go to war, as they would not be insulted." 

Our chiefs had no intention of insulting them, 
and told them "that they merely wished to 
explain [69] to them that they had told a lie, 
without making them angry; in the same man 
ner that the whites do, when they do not 
believe what is told them!" The council then 
proceeded, and the pipe of peace was smoked. 

Here, for the first time, I touched the goose 
quill to the treaty not knowing, however, that, 
by that act, I consented to give away my village. 
Had that been explained to me, I should have 
opposed it, and never would have signed their 
treaty, as my recent conduct will clearly prove. 

What do we know of the manner of the laws 
and customs of the white people? They might 
buy our bodies for dissection, and we would 
touch the goose quill to confirm it, without 
knowing what we are doing. This was the 
case with myself and people in touching the 
goose quill the first time. 

Sife of SMacft 

We can only judge of what is proper and 
right by our standard of right and wrong, 
which differs widely from the whites, if I have 
been correctly informed. The whites may do 
bad all their lives, and then, if they are sorry 
for it when about to die, all is well! But with 
us it is different: we must continue through 
out our lives to do what we conceive to be 
good. If we have corn and meat, and know 
of a family that hajve none, we divide with 
them. If we have more blankets than suffi 
cient, and others have not enough, we must 
give to them that want. But I will presently 
explain our customs and the manner we live. 

[70] We were friendly treated by the white 
chiefs, and started back to our village on Rock 
river. Here we found that troops had arrived 
to build a fort at Rock Island. 26 This, in our 
opinion, was a contradiction to what we had 
done "to prepare for war in time of peace." 
We did not, however, object to their building 
the fort on the island, but we were very sorry, 
as this was the best island on the Mississippi, 
and had long been the resort of our young 
people during the summer. It was our garden 
(like the white people have near to their big vil 
lages) which supplied us with strawberries, 
blackberries, gooseberries, plums, apples, and 
nuts of different kinds; and its waters supplied 
us with fine fish, being situated in the rapids of 

26 Fort Armstrong, on Rock Island, was built and 
garrisoned in the summer of 1816. 


ilife of 2Macft 

the river. In my early life, I spent many happy 
days on this island. A good spirit had care 
of it, who lived in a cave in the rocks immedi 
ately under the place where the fort now stands, 
and has often been seen by our people. He 
was white, with large wings like a swan s, but 
ten times larger. We were particular not to 
make much noise in that part of the island 
which he inhabited, for fear of disturbing him. 
But the noise of the fort has since driven him 
away, and no doubt a bad spirit has taken his 

Our village was situated on the north side 
of Rock river, at the foot of its rapids, and on 
the point of land between Rock river and the 
Mississippi. In its front, a prairie extended 
to the bank of the Mississippi; and in our rear, 
a continued bluff, gently ascending from [71] 
the prairie. On the side of this bluff we had 
our corn-fields, extending about two miles up, 
running parallel with the Mississippi; where we 
joined those of the Foxes, whose village was on 
the bank of the Mississippi, opposite the lower 
end of Rock island, and three miles distant from 
ours. We had about eight hundred acres in cul 
tivation, including what we had on the islands 
of Rock river. The land around our vil 
lage, uncultivated, was covered with blue-grass, 
which made excellent pasture for our horses. 
Several fine springs broke out of the bluff, near 
by, from which we were supplied with good 
water. The rapids of Rock river furnished us 

3Ufe of 95Iacft i^atoft 

with an abundance of excellent fish, and the 
land, being good, never failed to produce good 
crops of corn, beans, pumpkins, and squashes. 
We always had plenty our children never 
cried with hunger, nor our people were never 
in want. Here our village had stood for more 
than a hundred years, during all which time we 
were the undisputed possessors of the valley 
of the Mississippi, from the Ouisconsin to the 
Portage des Sioux, near the mouth of the 
Missouri, being about seven hundred miles in 

At this time we had very little intercourse 
with the whites, except our traders. Our vil 
lage was healthy, and there was no place in 
the country possessing such advantages, nor 
no hunting grounds better than those we had 
in possession. If another prophet had come 
to our village in those days, and told us what 
has since taken place, none of our people would 
have [72] believed him! What! to be driven 
from our village and hunting grounds, and not 
even permitted to visit the graves of our fore 
fathers, our relations and friends? 

This hardship is not known to the whites. 
With us it is a custom to visit the graves of our 
friends, and keep them in repair for many years. 
The mother will go alone to weep over the grave 
of her child! The brave, with pleasure, visits 
the grave of his father, after he has been suc 
cessful in war, and repaints the post that shows 
where he lies! There is no place like that 

3tife of 2>lacft l^atoh 

where the bones of our forefathers lie, to go 
to when in grief. Here the Great Spirit will 
take pity on us! 

But, how different is our situation now, from 
what it was in those days! Then we were as 
happy as the buffalo on the plains but now, 
we are as miserable as the hungry, howling wolf 
in the prairie! But I am digressing from my 
story. Bitter reflection crowds upon my mind, 
and must find utterance. 

When we returned to our village in the spring, 
from our wintering grounds, we would finish 
trading with our traders, who always followed 
us to our village. We purposely kept some 
of our fine furs for this trade; and, as there 
was great opposition among them, who should 
get these skins, we always got our goods cheap. 
After this trade was over, the traders would 
give us a few kegs of rum, which was gener 
ally promised in the fall, to en- [73] courage us 
to make a good hunt, and not go to war. 
They would then start with their furs and pel 
tries for their homes. Our old men would 
take a frolic, (at this time our young men 
never drank.) When this was ended, the next 
thing to be done was to bury our dead, (such as 
had died during the year.) This is a great 
medicine feast. The relations of those who have 
died, give all the goods they have purchased, 
as presents to their friends thereby reducing 
themselves to poverty, to show the Great 
Spirit that they are humble, so that he will 

Hife of SMacfc 

take pity on them. We would next open the 
cashes, and take out corn and other provisions, 
which had been put up in the fall and then 
commence repairing our lodges. As soon as 
this is accomplished, we repair the fences 
around our fields, and clean them off, ready 
for planting corn. This work is done by 
our women. The men, during this time, are 
feasting on dried venison, bear s meat, wild 
fowl, and corn,, prepared in different ways; 
and recounting to each other what took place 
during the winter. 

Our women plant the corn, and as soon as 
they get done, we make a feast, and dance the 
crane dance, in which they join us, dressed in 
their best, and decorated with feathers. At 
this feast our young braves select the young 
woman they wish to have for a wife. He then 
informs his mother, who calls on the mother 
of the girl, when the arrangement [74] is made, 
and the time appointed for him to come. He 
goes to the lodge when all are asleep, (or pre 
tend to be,) lights his matches, which have 
been provided for the purpose, and soon finds 
where his intended sleeps. He then awakens 
her, and holds the light to his face that she 
may know him after which he places the 
light close to her. If she blows it out, the 
ceremony is ended, and he appears in the lodge 
next morning, as one of the family. If she 
does not blow out the light, but leaves it to 
burn out, he retires from the lodge. The next 


day he places himself in full view of it, and 
plays his flute. The young women go out, 
one by one, to see who he is playing for. The 
tune changes, to let them know that he is not 
playing for them. When his intended makes 
her appearance at the door, he continues his 
courting tune, until she returns to the lodge. 
He then gives over playing, and makes another 
trial at night, which generally turns out favor 
able. During the first year they ascertain 
whether they can agree with each other, and 
.can be happy if not, they part, and each 
looks out again. If we were to live together 
and disagree, we should be as foolish as the 
whites! No indiscretion can banish a woman 
from her parental lodge no difference how 
many children she may bring home, she is al 
ways welcome the kettle is over the fire to 
feed them. 

The crane dance often lasts two or three 
days. When this is over, we feast again, and 
have our [75] national dance. The large square 
in the village is swept and prepared for the 
purpose. The chiefs and old warriors, take 
seats on mats which have been spread at the 
upper end of the square the drummers and 
singers come next, and the braves and women 
form the sides, leaving a large space in the 
middle. The drums beat, and the singers 
commence. A warrior enters the square, keep 
ing time with the music. He shows the 
manner he started on a war party how he 


approached the enemy he strikes, and de 
scribes the way he killed him. All join in 
applause. He then leaves the square, and 
another enters and takes his place. Such of 
our young men as have not been out in war 
parties, and killed an enemy, stand back 
ashamed not being able to enter the square. 
I remember that I was ashamed to look where 
our young women stood, before I could take 
my stand in the square as a warrior. 

What pleasure it is to an old warrior, to 
see his son come forward and relate his exploits 

it makes him feel young, and induces him 
to enter the square, and "fight his battles o er 

This national dance makes our warriors. 
When I was travelling last summer, on a steam 
boat, on a large river, going from New York 
to Albany, I was shown the place where the 
Americans dance their national dance [West 
Point]; where the old warriors recount to their 
young men, what they have done, to [76] stim 
ulate them to go and do likewise. This 
surprised me, as I did not think the whites 
understood our way of making braves. 

When our national dance is over our corn 
fields hoed, and every weed dug up, and our 
corn about knee-high, all our young men would 
start in a direction towards sun-down, to hunt 
deer and buffalo being prepared, also, to kill 
Sioux, if any are found on our hunting grounds 

a part of our old men and women to the 


atife of SSiacft 

lead mines to make lead and the remainder 
of our people start to fish, and get mat stuff. 
Every one leaves the village, and remains about 
forty days. They then return: the hunting 
party bringing in dried buffalo and deer meat, 
and sometimes Sioux scalps, when they are 
found trespassing on our hunting grounds. At 
other times they are met by a party of Sioux 
too strong for them, and are driven in. If the 
Sioux have killed the Sacs last, they expect to 
be retaliated upon, and will fly before them, 
and vice versa. Each party knows that the 
other has a righ.t to retaliate, which induces 
those who have killed last, to give way before 
their enemy as neither wish to strike, except 
to avenge the death of their relatives. All our 
wars are predicated by the relatives of those 
killed; or by aggressions upon our hunting 

The party from the lead mines bring lead, 
and the others dried fish, and mats for our win 
ter lodges. Presents are now made by each 
party; the first, giving to the others dried 
buffalo and deer, and they, in [77] exchange, 
presenting them with lead, dried fish and mats. 
This is a happy season of the year having 
plenty of provisions, such as beans, squashes, 
and other produce, with our dried meat and 
fish, we continue to make feasts and visit each 
other, until our corn is ripe. Some lodge in 
the village makes a feast daily, to the Great 
Spirit. I cannot explain this so that the white 


life of 25lacft f atoft 

people would comprehend me, as we have no 
regular standard among us. Every one makes 
his feast as he thinks best, to please the Great 
Spirit, who has the care of all beings created. 
Others believe in two Spirits: one good and one 
bad, and make feasts for the Bad Spirit, to 
keep him quiet! If they can make peace with 
him, the Good Spirit will not hurt them! For 
my part, I am of opinion, that so far as we 
have reason, we have a right to use it, in deter 
mining what is right or wrong; and should 
pursue that path which we believe to be right 
believing that, "whatever is, is right." If 
the Great and Good Spirit wished us to believe 
and do as the whites, he could easily change 
our opinions, so that we would see, and think, 
and act as they do. We are nothing compared 
to His power, and we feel and know it. We 
have men among us, like the whites, who pre 
tend to know the right path, but will not con 
sent to show it without pay! I have no faith 
in their paths but believe that every man 
must make his own path! 

When our corn is getting ripe, our young 
people watch with anxiety for the signal to pull 
roasting ears [78] as none dare touch them 
until the proper time. When the corn is fit to 
use, another great ceremony takes place, with 
feasting, and returning thanks to the Great 
Spirit for giving us corn. 

I will here relate the manner in which corn 
first came. According to tradition, handed 

ilife of 25Iacft J^atoft 

down to our people, a beautiful woman was 
seen to descend from the clouds, and alight 
upon the earth, by two of our ancestors, who 
had killed a deer, and were sitting by a fire, 
roasting a part of it to eat. They were aston 
ished at seeing her, and concluded that she 
must be hungry, and had smelt the meat and 
immediately went to her, taking with them a 
piece of the roasted venison. They presented 
it to her, and she eat and told them to return 
to the spot where she was sitting, at the end 
of one year, and they would find a reward for 
their kindness and generosity. She then as 
cended to the clouds, and disappeared. The 
two men returned to their village, and ex 
plained to the nation what they had seen, done, 
and heard but were laughed at by their 
people. When the period arrived, for them 
to visit this consecrated ground, where they 
were to find a reward for their attention to the 
beautiful woman of the clouds, they went with 
a large party, and found, where her right hand 
had rested on the ground, corn growing and 
where the left hand had rested, beans, and 
immediately where she had been seated, tobacco. 
The two first have, ever since, been culti 
vated by [79] our people, as our principal pro 
visions and the last used for smoking. The 
white people have since found out the latter, 
and seem to relish it as much as we do as- 
they use it in different ways, viz. smoking, 
snuffing and eating! 


Sjfe of 25Iacft 

We thank the Great Spirit for all the benefits 
he has conferred upon us. For myself, I 
never take a drink of water from a spring, 
without being mindful of his goodness. 

We next have our great ball play from 
three to five hundred on a side, play this game. 
We play for horses, guns, blankets, or any 
other kind of property we have. The success 
ful party take the stakes, and all retire to our 
lodges in peace and friendship. 

We next commence horse-racing, and con 
tinue our sport and feasting, until the corn is 
all secured. We then prepare to leave our 
village for our hunting grounds. The traders 
arrive, and give us credit for such articles as 
we want to clothe our families, and enable us 
to hunt. We first, however, hold a council 
with them, to ascertain the price they will give 
us for our skins, and what they will charge us 
for goods. We inform them where we intend 
hunting and tell them where to build their 
houses. At this place, we deposit part of 
our corn, and leave our old people. The 
traders have always been kind to them, and 
relieved them when in want. They were al 
ways much respected by our people and 
never since we have been a nation, has one of 
them been killed by any of our people. 

[80] We disperse, in small parties, to make 
our hunt, and as soon as it is over, we return 
to our traders establishment, with our skins, 
and remain feasting, playing cards and other 


Sife of SWacfe 

pastimes, until near the close of the winter. 
Our young men then start on the beaver hunt; 
others to hunt raccoons and muskrats and 
the remainder of our people go to the sugar 
camps to make sugar. All leave our encamp 
ment, and appoint a place to meet on the Mis 
sissippi, so that we may return to our village 
together, in the spring. We always spent our 
time pleasantly at the sugar camp. It being 
the season for wild fowl, we lived well, and 
always had plenty, when the hunters came in, 
that we might make a feast for them. After 
this is over, we return to our village, accom 
panied, sometimes, by our traders. In this 
way, the year rolled round happily. But these 
are times that were! 

On returning, in the spring, from our hunt 
ing ground, I had the pleasure of meeting our 
old friend, the trader of Peoria, at Rock Island. 
He came up in a boat from St. Louis, not as 
a trader, as in times past, but as our agent. 
We were all pleased to see him. He told us, 
that he narrowly escaped falling into the hands 
of Dixon. He remained with us a short time, 
gave us good advice, and then returned to 
St. Louis. 

The Sioux having committed depredations 
on our people, we sent out war parties that 
summer, who succeeded in killing fourteen. 
I paid several visits to fort Armstrong during 
the summer, and was always [81] well treated. 
We were not as happy then in our village as 

Hife of 25Iatft 

formerly. Our people got more liquor than 
customary. I used all my influence to prevent 
drunkenness, but without effect. As the settle 
ments progressed towards us, we became worse 
off, and more unhappy. Many of our people, 
instead of going to their old hunting grounds, 
where game was plenty, would go near to the 
settlements to hunt and, instead of saving 
their skins to pay the trader for goods furnished 
them in the fall, would sell them to the settlers 
for whiskey! and return in the spring with 
their families, almost naked, and without the 
means of getting any thing for them. 

About this time my eldest son was taken 
sick and died. He had always been a dutiful 
child, and had just grown to manhood. Soon 
after, my youngest daughter, an interesting and 
affectionate child, died also. This was a hard 
stroke, because I loved my children. In my 
distress, I left the noise of the village, and built 
my lodge on a mound in my corn-field, and 
enclosed it with a fence, around which I planted 
corn and beans. Here I was with my family 
alone. I gave every thing I had away, and 
reduced myself to poverty. The only cover 
ing I retained, was a piece of buffalo robe. I 
resolved on blacking my face and fasting, for 
two years, for the loss of my two children 
drinking only of water in the middle of the 
day, and eating sparingly of boiled corn at sun 
set. I fulfilled my promise, hoping that the 
Great Spirit would take pity on me. 


Hife of 2Macft 

[82] My nation had now some difficulty with 
the loways, with whom we wished to be at 
peace. Our young men had repeatedly killed 
some of the loways; and these breaches had 
always been made up by giving presents to the 
relations of those killed. But the last council 
we had with them, we promised that, in case 
any more of their people were killed by ours, in 
stead of presents, we would give up the person, 
or persons, that had done the injury. We 
made this determination known to our people; 
but, notwithstanding, one of our young men 
killed an loway the following winter. 

A party of our people were about starting 
for the loway village to give the young man 
up. I agreed to accompany them. When we 
were ready to start, I called at the lodge for 
the young man to go with us. He was sick, 
but willing to go. His brother, however, pre-* 
vented him, and insisted on going to die in his 
place, as he was unable to travel. We started, 
and on the seventh day arrived in sight of the 
Iowa village, and within a short distance of it, 
halted and dismounted. We all bid farewell 
to our young brave, who entered the village 
alone, singing his death-song, and sat down on 
the square in the middle of the village. One 
of the Iowa chiefs came out to us. We told 
him that we had fulfilled our promise that 
we had brought the brother of the young man 
who had killed one of their people that he 
had volunteered to come in his place, in con- 


a tfe of SWacfc 

sequence of his brother beih g enable- tc : 
from sickness. We had no [83] further con 
versation, but mounted our horses and rode 
off. As we started I cast my eye toward the 
village, and observed the loways coming out 
of their lodges with spears and war clubs. 
We took our trail back, and travelled until dark 
then encamped and made a fire. We had 
not been here long, before we heard the sound 
of horses coming towards us. We seized our 
arms; but instead of any enemy, it was our 
young brave with two horses. He told me 
that after we had left him, they menaced him 
with death for some time then gave him 
something to eat smoked the pipe with him 
and made him a present of the two horses and 
some goods, and started him after us. When 
we arrived at our village, our people were much 
pleased; and for the noble and generous con 
duct of the loways, on this occasion, not one 
of their people has been killed since by any of 
our nation. 

That fall I visited Maiden with several of my 
band, and twe] were well treated by the agent 
of our British Father, who gave us a variety of 
presents. He also gave me a medal, and told 
me there never would be war between England 
and America again; but, for my fidelity to the 
British during the war that had terminated 
some time before, requested me to come with 
my band and get presents every year, as Colonel 
Dixon had promised me. 

ifcof 25Iacft f atoft 

-ec, ana, huijted that winter on the 
Two-Rivers. The whites were now settling 
the country fast. I was out one day hunting 
in a bottom, and met [84] three white men. 
They accused me of killing their hogs. I 
denied it; but they would not listen to me. 
One of them took my gun out of my hand and 
fired it off then took out the flint, gave back 
my gun, and commenced beating me with 
sticks, and ordered me off. I was so much 
bruised that I could not sleep for several 

Some time after this occurrence, one of my 
camp cut a bee-tree, and carried the honey to 
his lodge. A party of white men soon fol 
lowed, and told him the bee-tree was theirs, 
and that he had no right to cut it. He pointed 
to the honey and told them to take it; they 
were not satisfied with this, but took all the 
packs of skins that he had collected during 
the winter, to pay his trader and clothe his 
family with in the spring, and carried them 

How could we like such people, who treated 
us so unjustly? We determined to break up 
our camp, for fear that they would do worse 
and when we joined our people in the spring, 
a great many of them complained of similar 

This summer 27 our agent came to live at 
Rock Island. He treated us well, and gave 

27 The summer of 1819, apparently. 


Itife of 25Iacfe 

us good advice. I visited him and the trader 
very often during the summer, and, for the 
first time, heard talk of our having to leave my 
village. The trader, explained to me the terms 
of the treaty that had been made, and said we 
would be obliged to leave the Illinois side of 
the Mississippi, and advised us to select a 
good place for [85] our village, and remove to 
it in the spring. He pointed out the difficul 
ties we would have to encounter if we remained 
at our village on Rock river. He had great 
influence with the principal Fox chief, his 
adopted brother, and persuaded him to leave 
his village, go to the west side of the Missis 
sippi river and build another which he did 
the spring following. Nothing was talked of 
but leaving our village. Ke-o-kuck had been 
persuaded to consent to go; and was using 
all his influence, backed by the war chief at 
fort Armstrong and our agent and trader at 
Rock Island, to induce others to go with him. 
He sent the crier through the village to inform 
our people that it was the wish of our Great 
Father that we should remove to the west side 
of the Mississippi and recommended the 
loway river as a good place for the new vil 
lage and wished his party to make such 
arrangements, before they started on their 
winter s hunt, as to preclude the necessity of 
their returning to the village in the spring. 

The party opposed to removing called upon 
me for my opinion. I gave it freely and 

Hife of 2Macft f atoft 

after questioning Quash-qua-me about the sale 
of our lands, he assured me that he "never 
had consented to the sale of our village." I 
now promised this party to be their leader, and 
raised the standard of opposition to Ke-o-kuck, 
with a full determination not to leave my village. 
I had an interview with Ke-o-kuck, to see if 
this difficulty could not be settled with our 
Great [86] Father and told him to propose 
to give other land, (any that our Great Father 
might choose, even our lead mines,} to be 
peaceably permitted to keep the small point of 
land on which our village and lands were situ 
ate. I was of opinion that the white people 
had plenty of land, and would never take our 
village from us. Ke-o-kuck promised to make 
an exchange if possible; and applied to our 
agent, and the great chief at St. Louis, (who 
has charge of all the agents,) for permission 
to go to Washington to see our Great Father 
for that purpose. This satisfied us for some 
time. We started to our hunting grounds, in 
good hopes that something would be done for 
us. During the winter I received information 
that three families of whites had arrived at 
our village and destroyed some of our lodges, 
and were making fences and dividing our corn 
fields for their own use and were quarreling 
among themselves about their lines in the divi 
sion! I immediately started for Rock river 
a distance of ten days travel, and on my 
arrival found the report to be true. I went 

Stfc of 3Marft 

to my lodge, and saw a family occupying it. 
I wished to talk with them but they could not 
understand me. I then went to Rock Island, 
and (the agent being absent,) told the inter 
preter what I wanted to say to these people, 
viz: "Not to settle on our lands nor trouble 
our lodges or fences that there was plenty 
of land in the country for them to settle 
upon and they must leave our village, as we 
were coming back to it in the [87] spring." 
The interpreter wrote me a paper, and I went 
back to the village, and showed it to the in 
truders, but could not understand their reply. 
I expected, however, that they would remove, 
as I requested them. I returned to Rock 
Island, passed the night there, and had a long 
conversation with the trader. He again ad 
vised me to give up, and make my village 
with Ke-o-kuck, on the loway river. I told 
him that I would not. The next morning I 
crossed the Mississippi, on very bad ice but 
the Great Spirit made it strong, that I might 
pass over safe. I travelled three days farther 
to see the Winnebago sub-agent, and converse 
with him on the subject of our difficulties. 
He gave no better news than the trader had 
done. I started then, by way of Rock river, 
to see the prophet, 28 believing that he was a 

28 The "prophet," White Cloud, a man of mixed 

Winnebago and Sac descent, had a village on Rock 

River some thirty-five miles above its mouth. In 

Sac history and in Black Hawk s life he played a 


Ilife of 25Iatft 

man of great knowledge. When we met, I 
explained to him everything as it was. He at 
once agreed that I was right, and advised me 
never to give up our village, for the whites to 
plough up the bones of our people. He said, 
that if we remained at our village, the whites 
would not trouble us and advised me to get 
Ke-o-kuck, and the party that had consented 
to go with him to the loway in the spring, to 
return, and remain at our village. 

I returned to my hunting ground, after an 
absence of one moon, and related what I had 
done. In a short time we came up to our 
village, and found that the whites had not left 
it but that others had come, and that the 
greater part of our corn-fields had been [88] 
enclosed. When we landed, the whites ap 
peared displeased because we came back. 
We repaired the lodges that had been left 
standing, and built others. Ke-o-kuck came 
to the village; but his object was to persuade 
others to follow him to the loway. He had 
accomplished nothing towards making arrange 
ments for us to remain, or to exchange other 
lands for our village. There was no more 

role similar to that of the more famous "prophet," 
the brother of Tecumseh, in the affairs of his people. 
Thwaites characterizes White Cloud as Black Hawk s 
"evil genius." "His hatred of the whites was in 
veterate; he appears to have been devoid of humane 
sentiments ; he had a reckless disposition, and 
seemed to enjoy sowing the seeds of disorder for 
the simple pleasure of witnessing a border chaos." 

Hifc of 2Hacft 

friendship existing between us. I looked upon 
him as a coward, and no brave, to abandon 
his village to be occupied by strangers. What 
right had these people to our village, and our 
fields, which the Great Spirit had given us to 
live upon ? 

My reason teaches me that land cannot be 
sold. The Great Spirit gave it to his children 
to live upon, and cultivate as far as is necessary 
for their subsistence; and so long as they occupy 
and cultivate it, they have the right to the soil 
but if they voluntarily leave it, then any other 
people have a right to settle upon it. Nothing 
can be sold but such things as can be carried 

In consequence of the improvements of the 
intruders on our fields, we found considerable 
difficulty to get ground to plant a little corn. 
Some of the whites permitted us to plant small 
patches in the fields they had fenced, keeping 
all the best ground for themselves. Our 
women had great difficulty in climbing their 
fences, (being unaccustomed to the kind,) and 
were ill-treated if they left a rail down. 

One of my old friends thought he was safe. 
His [89] corn-field was on a small island of 
Rock river. He planted his corn; it came up 
well but the white man saw it! he wanted 
the island, and took his teams over, ploughed up 
the corn, and re-planted it for himself ! The old 
man shed tears; not for himself but the distress 
his family would be in if they raised no corn. 

3tife of 25Iatft 

The white people brought whisky into our 
village, made our people drunk, and cheated 
them out of their horses, guns, and traps! 
This fraudulent system was carried to such an 
extent that I apprehended serious difficulties 
might take place, unless a stop was put to it. 
Consequently, I visited all the whites and 
begged them not to sell whisky to my people. 
One of them continued the practice openly. 
I took a party of my young men, went to his 
house, and took out his barrel and broke in 
the head and poured out the whisky. I did 
this for fear some of the whites might be killed 
by my people when drunk. 

Our people were treated badly by the whites 
on many occasions. At one time, a white man 
beat one of our women cruelly, for pulling a 
few suckers of corn out of his field, to suck, 
when hungry. At another time, one of our 
young men was beat with clubs by two white 
men for opening a fence which crossed our 
road, to take his horse through. His shoulder 
blade was broken, and his body badly bruised, 
from which he soon after died! 

Bad, and cruel, as our people were treated 
by the [90] whites, not one of them was hurt 
or molested by any of my band. I hope this 
will prove that we are a peaceable people 
having permitted ten men to take possession 
of our corn-fields; prevent us from planting 
corn; burn our lodges; ill-treat our women; 
and beat to death our men, without offering 

Sife of 2Macfe 

resistance to their barbarous cruelties. This 
is a lesson worthy for the white man to learn : 
to use forbearance when injured. 

We acquainted our agent daily with our 
situation, and through him, the great chief 29 
at St. Louis and hoped that something would 
be done for us. The whites were complaining 
at the same time that we were intriiding upon 
their rights! THEY made themselves out 
the injured party, and we the intruders ! And 
called loudly to the great war chief to protect 
their property. 

How smooth must be the language of the 
whites, when they can make right look like 
wrong, and wrong like right. 

During this summer, I happened at Rock 
Island when a great chief arrived, whom I had 
known as the great chief of Illinois, [Governor 
Cole] in company with another chief, who, I 
have been told, is a great writer [ Judge Jas. Hall.] 
I called upon them and begged to explain to 
them the grievances, under which me and my 
people were laboring, hoping that they could do 
something for us. The great chief, however, 
did not seem disposed to council with me. 
He said [91] he was no longer the chief of 
Illinois that his children had selected another 
father in his stead, and that he now only 

29 This was General Wm. Clark of Lewis and 
Clark fame, who had general administrative control 
of the tribes tributary to St. Louis and west of the 


Hife of SMacft l^atoft 

ranked as they did. I was surprised at this 
talk, as I had always heard that he was a good, 
brave, and great chief. But the white people 
never appear to be satisfied. When they get 
a good father, they hold councils, (at the 
suggestion of some bad, ambitious man, who 
wants the place himself,) and conclude, among 
themselves that this man, or some other 
equally ambitious, would make a better father 
than they have, and nine times out of ten they 
don t get as good a one again. 

I insisted on explaining to these two chiefs 
the true situation of my people. They gave 
their assent. I arose and made a speech, in 
which I explained to them the treaty made 
by Quash-qua-me, and three of our braves, 
according to the manner the trader and others 
had explained it to me. I then told them that 
Quash-qua-me and his party denied, positively, 
having ever sold my village; and that, as I had 
never known them to lie, I was determined to 
keep it in possession. 

I told them that the white people had already 
entered our village, burnt our lodges, destroyed 
our fences, ploughed up our corn, and beat our 
people: that they had brought whisky into our 
country, made our people drunk, and taken 
from them their horses, guns, and traps , and 
that I had borne all this injury, without suffer 
ing any of my braves to raise a hand against 
the whites. 

[92] My object in holding this council, was 

3life of S&Iacfc 

to get the opinion of these two chiefs, as to 
the best course for me to pursue. I had 
appealed in vain, time after time, to our agent, 
who regularly represented our situation to the 
chief at St. Louis, whose duty it was to call 
upon our Great Father to have justice done to 
us; but instead of this, we are told that the 
white people want our country and we must 
leave it to them! 

I did not think it possible that our Great 
Father wished us to leave our village, where 
we had lived so long, and where the bones of 
so many of our people had been laid. The 
great chief said that, as he was no longer a 
chief, he could do nothing for us; and felt 
sorry that it was not in his power to aid us 
nor did he know how to advise us. Neither 
of them could do anything for us; but both 
evidently appeared very sorry. It would give 
me great pleasure, at all times, to take these 
two chiefs by the hand. 

That fall I paid a visit to the agent, before 
we started to our hunting grounds, to hear if 
he had any good news for me. He had news! 
He said that the land on which our village stood 
was now ordered to be sold to individuals; 
and that, when sold, our right to remain, by 
treaty, would be at an end, and that if we 
returned next spring, we would be forced to 
remove ! 

We learned during the winter that part of 
the lands where our village stood had been sold 

atife of SMacft J^atoft 

to individuals, and that the trader at Rock 
Island had bought the [93] greater part that 
had been sold. The reason was now plain to 
me why he urged us to remove. His object, 
we thought, was to get our lands. We held 
several councils that winter to determine what 
we should do, and resolved, in one of them, to 
return to our village in the spring, as usual; 
and concluded, that if we were removed by force, 
that the trader, agent, and others, must be the 
cause; and that, if found guilty of having us 
driven from our village they should be killed! 
The trader stood foremost on this list. He 
had purchased the land on which my lodge 
stood, and that of our grave yard also ! Ne- 
a-pope promised to kill him, the agent, the 
interpreter, the great chief at St. Louis, the 
war chief at fort Armstrong, Rock Island, and 
Ke-o-kuck these being the principal persons 
to blame for endeavoring to remove us. 

Our women received bad accounts from the 
women that had been raising corn at the new 
village the difficulty of breaking the new 
prairie with hoes and the small quantity of 
corn raised. We were nearly in the same sit 
uation with regard to the latter, it being the 
first time I ever knew our people to be in want 
of provision. 

I prevailed upon some of Ke-o-kuck s band 

to return this spring to the Rock river village. 

Ke-o-kuck would not return with us. I hoped 

that we would get permission to go to Wash- 


ftife of 2Macfe 

ington to settle our affairs with our Great 
Father. I visited the agent at Rock Island. 
He was displeased because we had returned 
[94] to our village, and told me that we must 
remove to the west of the Mississippi. I told 
him plainly that we would not! I visited the 
interpreter at his house, who advised me to do 
as the agent had directed me. I then went to 
see the trader and upbraided him for buying 
our lands. He said that if he had not pur 
chased them, some person else would, and that 
if our Great Father would make an exchange 
with us, he would willingly give up the land 
he had purchased to the government. This I 
thought was fair, and began to think that he 
had not acted as badly as I had suspected. 
We again repaired our lodges, and built others, 
as most of our village had been burnt and 
destroyed. Our women selected small patches 
to plant corn, (where the whites had not taken 
them within their fences,) and worked hard to 
raise something for our children to subsist 

I was told that, according to the treaty, we 
had no right to remain upon the lands sold^ 
and that the government would force us to 
leave them. There was but a small portion, 
however, that had been sold; the balance re 
maining in the hands of the government, we 
claimed the right (if we had no other) to "live 
and hunt upon, as long as it remained the 
property of the government," by a stipulation 

itife of SSlacft 

in the same treaty that required us to evacuate 
it after it had been sold. This was the land 
that we wished to inhabit, and thought we had 
the best right to occupy. 

I heard that there was a great chief on the 
Wabash, [95] and sent a party to get his ad 
vice. They informed him that we had not 
sold our village. He assured them, then, that 
if we had not sold the land on which our vil 
lage stood, our Great Father would not take 
it from us. 

I started early to Maiden to see the chief of 
my British Father, and told him my story. 
He gave the same reply that the chief on the 
Wabash had given; and in justice to him, I 
must say, he never gave me any bad advice: 
but advised me to apply to our American 
Father, who, he said, would do us justice. I 
next called on the great chief at Detroit, and 
made the same statement to him that I had 
to the chief of our British Father. He gave 
the same reply. He said, if we had not sold 
our lands, and would remain peaceably on them, 
that we would not be disturbed. This assured 
me that I was right, and determined me to 
hold out, as I had promised my people. 

I returned from Maiden late in the fall. 
My people were gone to their hunting ground, 
whither I followed. Here I learned that they 
had been badly treated all summer by the 
whites; and that a treaty had been held at 
Prairie du Chien. Ke-o-kuck and some of 

Hife of 2Wacfc 

our people attended it, and found out that 
our Great Father had exchanged a small strip 
of the land that was ceded by Quash-qua-me and 
his party, with the Pottowattomies, fpr a por 
tion of their land, near Chicago ; and that the 
object of this treaty was to get it back again; 
and that the United States had agreed to [96] 
give them sixteen thousand dollars a year, for 
ever, for this small strip of land it being 
less than the twentieth part of that taken from 
our nation, for one thousand dollars a year! 
This bears evidence of something I cannot 
explain. This land they say belonged to the 
United States. What reason, then, could have 
induced them to exchange it with the Potto 
wattomies, if it was so valuable ? Why not 
keep it ? Or, if they found that they had made 
a bad bargain with the Pottowattomies, why 
not take back their land at a fair proportion of 
what they gave our nation for it? If this 
small portion of the land that they took from 
us for one thousand dollars a year, be worth 
sixteen thousand dollars a year forever, to 
the Pottowattomies, then the whole tract of 
country taken from us ought to be worth, to 
our nation, twenty times as much as this small 

Here I was again puzzled to find out how 
the white people reasoned; and began to doubt 
whether they had any standard of right and 

Communication was kept up between myself 

Etfe of 2Macfc J^atoft 

and the Prophet. Runners were sent to the 
Arkansas, Red river and Texas not on the 
subject of our lands, but a secret mission, 
which I am not, at present, permitted to 

It was related to me, that the chiefs and 
headmen of the Foxes had been invited to 
Prairie du Chien, to hold a council to settle 
the differences existing between them and the 
Sioux. That the chiefs and [97] headmen, 
amounting to nine, started for the place desig 
nated, taking with them one woman and 
were met by the Menomonees and Sioux, near 
the Ouisconsin and all killed, except one man. 
Having understood that the whole matter was 
published shortly after it occurred, and is 
known to the white people, I will say no more 
about it. 

I would here remark, that our pastimes and 
sports had been laid aside for two years. We 
were a divided people, forming two parties. 
Ke-o-kuck being at the head of one, willing 
to barter our rights merely for the good 
opinion of the whites; and cowardly enough 
to desert our village to them. I was at the 
head of the other party, and was determined 
to hold on to my village, although I had been 
ordered to leave it. But, I considered, as 
myself and band had no agency in selling our 
country and that as provision had been made 
in the treaty, for us all to remain on it as long 
as it belonged to the United States, that we 

Itife of 2Mach 

could not be forced away. I refused, there 
fore, to quit my village. It was here, that I 
was born and here lie the bones of many 
friends and relations. For this spot I felt a 
sacred reverence, and never could consent to 
leave it, without being forced therefrom. 

When I called to mind the scenes of my 
youth, and those of later days and reflected 
that the theatre on which these were acted, 
had been so long the home of my fathers, 
who now slept on the hills around [98] it, I 
could not bring my mind to consent to leave 
this country to the whites, for any earthly con 

The winter passed off in gloom. We made 
a bad hunt, for want of guns, traps, etc. that 
the whites had taken from our people for 
whisky! The prospect before us was a bad 
one. I fasted, and called upon the Great 
Spirit to direct my steps to the right path. 
I was in great sorrow because all the whites 
with whom I was acquainted, and had been 
on terms of friendship, advised me so contrary 
to my wishes, that I began to doubt whether I 
had a friend among them. 

Ke-o-kuck, who has a smooth tongue, and 
is a great speaker, was busy in persuading my 
band that I was wrong and thereby making 
many of them dissatisfied with me. I had one 
consolation for all the women were on my 
side, on account of their corn-fields. 

On my arrival again at my village, with my 

Eife of SMacft 

band increased, I found it worse than before. 
I visited Rock Island. The agent again ordered 
me to quit my village. He said, that if we 
did not, troops would be sent to drive us off. 
He reasoned with me, and told me, it would 
be better for us to be with the rest of our 
people, so that we might avoid difficulty, and 
live in peace. The interpreter joined him, and 
gave me so many good reasons, that I almost 
wished I had not undertaken the difficult task 
that I had [99] pledged myself to my brave 
band to perform. In this mood, I called upon 
the trader, who is fond of talking, and had 
long been my friend, but jiow amongst those 
advising me to give up my village. He received 
me very* friendly, and went on to defend Ke- 
o-kuck in what he had done, and endeavored 
to show me that I was bringing distress on 
our women and children. He inquired, if 
some terms could not be made, that would 
be honorable to me, and satisfactory to my 
braves, for us to remove to the west side of 
the Mississippi ? I replied, that if our Great 
Father would do us justice, and would make 
the proposition, I could then give up honorably. 
He asked me, "if the great chief at St. Louis 
would give us six thousand dollars to purchase 
provisions and other articles, if I would give 
up peaceably, and remove to the west side of 
the Mississippi?" After thinking some time, 
I agreed that I could honorably give up, by 
being paid for it, according to our customs; 

Eife of 2>Iacfe 

but told him, that I could not make the pro 
posal myself, even if I wished, because it 
would be dishonorable in me to do so. He 
said he would do it, by sending word to the 
great chief at St. Louis, that he could remove 
us peaceably, for the amount stated, to the 
west side of the Mississippi. A steam-boat 
arrived at the island during my stay. After 
its departure, the trader told me that he had 
requested a war chief, who was stationed at 
Galena, and was on board the steam-boat, to 
make the offer to the great chief at St. Louis, 
and that he would soon be back, and bring his 
answer." I did not let my [ IOO] people know 
what had taken place, for fear they would be 
displeased. I did not like what had been done 
myself, and tried to banish it from my mind. 

After a few days had passed, the war chief 
returned, and brought for answer, that "the 
great chief at St. Louis would give us nothing! 
and said if we did" not remove immediately 
we should be drove off!" 

I was not much displeased with the answer 
brought by the war chief, because I would 
rather have laid my bones with my forefathers 
than remove for any consideration. Yet if 
a friendly offer had been made, as I expected, 
I would, for the sake of my women and chil 
dren, have removed peaceably. 

I now resolved to remain in my village, and 
make no resistance, if the military came, but 
submit to my fate! I impressed the import- 

ilife of 2Macfc 

ance of this course on all my band, and directed 
them, in case the military came, not to raise 
an arm against them. 

About this time, our agent 30 was put out of 
office for what reason, I could never ascer 
tain. I then thought, if it was for wanting to 
make us leave our village it was right because 
I was tired of hearing him talk about it. The 
interpreter, who had been equally as bad in 
trying to persuade us to leave our village, was 
retained in office and the young man who 
took the place of our agent, told the same old 
story over about removing us. I was then 
satisfied, that this could not have been the 

[ 101 ] Our women had planted a few patches 
of corn, which was growing finely, and prom 
ised a subsistence for our children but the 
white people again commenced ploughing it up! 
I now determined to put a stop to it, by clear 
ing our country of the intruders. I went to 
the principal men and told them that they 
must and should leave our country and gave 
them until the middle of the next day, to re 
move in. The worst left within the time 
appointed but the one who remained, repre 
sented, that his family, ( which was large, ) 
would be in a starving condition, if he went and 
left his crop and promised to behave well, 
if I would consent to let him remain until fall, 

30 Thomas Forsyth. He retired to his home at 
St. Louis, where he died in 1833. 


Kife of 25lacft 

in order to secure his crop. He spoke reason 
ably, and I consented. 

We now resumed some of our games and 
pastimes having been assured by the prophet 
that we would not be removed. But in a little 
while it was ascertained, that a great war chief, 
[Gen. Gaines,] with a large number of soldiers 
was on his way to Rock river. I again called 
upon the prophet, who requested a little time 
to see into the matter. Early next morning 
he came to me, and said he had been dreaming ! 
"That he saw nothing bad in this great war 
chief, [Gen. Gaines,] who was now near Rock 
river. That the object of his mission was to 
frighten us from our village, that the white 
people might get our land for nothing ! He 
assured us that this "great war chief dare not, 
and would, not hurt any of us. That the 
[102] Americans were at peace with the Brit 
ish, and when they made peace, the British 
required, (which the Americans agreed to,) 
that they should never interrupt any nation of 
Indians that was at peace and that all we 
had to do to retain our village, was to refuse 
any, and every offer that might be made by 
this war chief." 

The war chief arrived, and convened a 
council at the agency. Ke-o-kuck and Wa- 
pel-lo were sent for, and came with a number 
of their band. The council house was opened, 
and they were all admitted. Myself and band 
were then sent for to attend the council. 

Hife of 25iacfe 

When we arrived at the door, singing a war 
song, and armed with lances, spears, war clubs 
and bows and arrows, as if going to battle, I 
halted, and refused to enter as I could see 
no necessity or propriety in having the room 
crowded with those who were already there. 
If the council was convened for us, why have 
others in our room? The war chief having 
sent all out, except Ke-o-kuck, Wa-pel-lo, and 
a few of their chiefs and braves, we entered 
the council house in this war-like appearance, 
being desirous to show the war chief that we 
were not afraid! He then rose and made a 
speech. He said: 

"The president is very sorry to be put to 
the trouble and expense of sending a large 
body of soldiers here, to remove you from the 
lands you have long since ceded to the United 
States. Your Great [ 103 ] Father has already 
warned you repeatedly, through your agent, 
to leave the country ; and he is very sorry to 
find that you have disobeyed his orders. Your 
Great Father wishes you well ; and asks 
nothing from you but what is reasonable 
and right. I hope you will consult your 
own interests, and leave the country you are 
occupying, and go to the other side of the 

I replied: "That we had never sold our 
country. We never received any annuities 
from our American father! and we are de 
termined to hold on to our village!" 

Sife of 25lacft J^atoft 

The war chief, apparently angry, rose and 

"Who is Black Hawk? Who is Black 

I responded: " I am a Sac! My forefather 
was a SAC! and all the nations call me a 

The war chief said: 

"I came here, neither to beg nor hire you 
to leave your village. My business is to re 
move you, peaceably if I can, but forcibly if I 
must ! I will now give you two days to remove 
in and if you do not cross the Mississippi 
within that time, I will adopt measures to 
force you away ! 

I told him that I never could consent to leave 
my village and was determined not to leave it! 

The council broke up, and the war chief 
retired to the fort. I consulted the prophet 
again! He said he had been dreaming, and 
that the Great Spirit had di-[iO4]rected that 
a woman, the daughter of Mat-ta-tas, the old 
chief of the village, should take a stick in her 
hand and go before the war chief, and tell him 
that she is the daughter of Mat-ta-tas, and that 
he had alw-ays been the white man s friend! 
That he had fought their battles been 
wounded in their service and had always 
spoke well of them and she had never heard 
him say that he had sold their village. The 
whites are numerous, and can take it from us 
if they choose, but she hoped they would not 

3tife of SWacft 

be so unfriendly. If they were, she had one 
favor to ask; she wished her people to be 
allowed to remain long enough to gather the 
provisions now growing in their fields; that 
she was a woman, and had worked hard to 
raise something to support her children ! And, 
if we are driven from our village without being 
allowed to save our corn, many of our little 
children must perish with hunger!" 

Accordingly, Mat-ta-tas daughter was sent 
to the fort, accompanied by several of our 
young men. They were admitted. She went 
before the war chief, and told the story of the 
prophet! The war chief said that the presi 
dent did not send him here to make treaties 
with the women, nor to hold council with them! 
That our young men must leave the fort, but 
she might remain if she wished! 

All our plans were now defeated. We must 
cross the river, or return to our village and 
await the coming of the war chief with his 
soldiers. We determined on the latter: but 
finding that our agent, interpreter, [ 105 ] trader, 
and Ke-o-kuck, (who were determined on 
breaking my ranks,) had seduced several of 
my warriors to cross the Mississippi, I sent a 
deputation to the agent, at the request of my 
band, pledging myself to leave the country in 
the fall, provided permission was given us to 
remain, and secure our crop of corn, then 
growing as we would be in a starving situa 
tion if we were driven off without the means 
of subsistence. 


:U iff of 23Uuh 

The deputation returned with an answer 
from the war chief, "that no further time 
would be given than that specified, and if we 
were not then gone, he would remove us!" 

I directed my village crier to proclaim, that 
my orders were, in the event of the war chief 
coming to our village to remove us, that not a 
gun should be fired nor any resistance offered. 
That if he determined to fight, for them to 
remain, quietly in their lodges, and let him 
kill them if he chose ! 

I felt conscious that this great war chief 
would not hurt our people and my object was 
not war! Had it been, we would have at 
tacked, and killed the war chief and his braves, 
when in council with us as they were then 
completely in our power. But his manly con 
duct and soldierly deportment, his mild, yet 
energetic manner, which proved his bravery, 
forbade it. 

Some of our young men who had been out 
as spies t came in and reported, that they had 
discovered a large body of mounted men com 
ing towards our village, who [ 106] looked like 
a war party .^ They arrived, and took a 
position below Rock river, for their place of 

31 The "party" consisted of 1600 Illinois militia 
under the leadership of Governor Reynolds, called 
out to drive the Sacs across the Mississippi. Black 
Hawk s narrative of what followed is much too tame 
to do justice to the facts. For a fuller account, in 
cluding a number of original documents, see Stevens, 
op. cit., chaps. XII and XIII. 


ttife of S&lacfc 

encampment. The great war chief, (Gen. 
Gaines,) entered Rock river in a steam-boat, 
with his soldiers and one big gun! They 
passed, and returned close by our village; but 
excited no alarm among my braves. No atten 
tion was paid to the boat by any of our people 
even our little children, who were playing 
on the bank of the river, as usual, continued 
their amusement. The water being shallow, 
the boat got aground, which gave the whites 
some trouble. If they had asked for assist 
ance, there was not a brave in my band, who 
would not willingly have aided them. Their 
people were permitted to pass and repass 
through our village, and were treated with 
friendship by our people. 

The war chief appointed the next day to 
remove us! I would have remained and been 
taken prisoner by the regulars, but was afraid 
of the multitude of pale faces, who were on 
horse back, as they were under no restraint of 
their chiefs. 

We crossed the Mississippi during the night, 
and encamped some distance below Rock 
Island. The great war chief convened another 
council, for the purpose of making a treaty 
with us. In this treaty he agreed to give us 
corn in place of that we had left growing in 
our fields. I touched the goose quill to this 
treaty, and was determined to live in peace. 

The corn that had been given us, was soon 
found to [107] be inadequate to our wants; 

Jlife of 25lacft 

when loud lamentations were heard in the 
camp, by our women and children, for their 
roasting-ears, beans and squashes. To satisfy 
them, a small party of braves went over, in 
the night, to steal corn from their own fields. 
They were discovered by the whites, and fired 
upon. Complaints were again made of the 
depredations committed by some of my people, 
on their own corn fields ! 

I understood from our agent, that there had 
been a provision made in one of our treaties 
for assistance in agriculture, and that we could 
have our fields ploughed if we required it. I 
therefore called upon him, and requested him 
to have me a small log house built, and a field 
plowed that fall, as I wished to live retired. 
He promised to have it done. I then went to 
the trader, and asked for permission to be 
buried in the grave-yard at our village, among 
my old friends and warriors; which he gave 
me cheerfully. I then returned to my people 

A short time after this, a party of Foxes 
went up to Prairie du Chien to avenge the 
murder of their chiefs and relations, which 
had been committed the summer previous, by 
the Menomonees and Sioux. When they ar 
rived in the vicinity of the encampment of the 
Menomonees, they met with a Winnebago, and 
inquired for the Menomonee camp; and they 
requested him to go on before them and see if 
there were any Winnebagoes in it and if so, 

3tife of 25lacft 

to tell them that they had better return to their 
own camp. He went, and gave the in- [108] 
formation, not only to the Winnebagoes, but to 
the Menomonees, that they might be prepared. 
The party soon followed, killed twenty-eight 
Menomonees, and made their escape. 
This retaliation, (which with us is considered 
lawful and right,) created considerable excite 
ment among the whites ! A demand was made 
for the Foxes to be surrendered to, and tried 
by, the white people! The principal men came 
to me during the fall, and asked my advice. 
I conceived that they had done right, and that 
our Great Father acted very unjustly, in de 
manding them, when he had suffered all their 
chiefs to be decoyed away, and murdered by 
the Menomonees, without having ever made a 
similar demand of them. If he had no right 
in the first instance, he had none now; and 
for my part, I conceived the right very ques 
tionable, if not altogether usurpation, in any 
case, where a difference exists between two 
nations, for him to interfere! The Foxes 
joined my band, with an intention to go out 
with them to hunt. 

About this time, Ne-a-pope, (who started 
to Maiden when it was ascertained that the 
great war chief, Gen. Gaines, was coming to 
remove us,) returned. He said he had seen 
the chief of our British Father, and asked him 
if the Americans could force us to leave our 
village? He said "If we had not sold our 

Eife of SMacft 

village and land the American government 
could not take them from us. That the right, 
being vested in us, could only be transferred 
by the voice and will of [109] the whole 
nation; and that, as we had never given our 
consent to the sale of our country, it remained 
our exclusive property from which the Amer 
ican government could never force us away! 
and that, in the event of war, we should have 
nothing to fear / as they would stand by and 
assist us ! " 

He said he had called at the prophet s vil 
lage on his way down, and had there learned, 
for the first time, that we had left our village. 
He informed me, privately, that the prophet 
was anxious to see me, as he had much good 
news to tell me, and that I would hear good 
news in the spring from our British Father. 
The prophet requested me to inform you of 
all the particulars. I would much rather, how 
ever, you should see him, and learn all from 
himself. But I will tell you, that he has re 
ceived expresses from our British father, who 
says that he is going to send us guns, ammu 
nition, provisions, and clothing, early in the 
spring. The vessels that bring them will come 
by way of Mil-wa-ke. The prophet has like 
wise received wampum and tobacco from the 
different nations on the lakes Ottawas, 
Chippewas, Pottowattomies; and as for the 
Winnebagoes, he has them all at his command. 
We are going to be happy once more! 

ilife of 25lacft 

I told him that I was pleased that our British 
Father intended to see us righted. That we 
had been driven from our lands without re 
ceiving anything for them and I now began 
to hope, from his talk, that my people would 
be once more happy. If [ 1 10 ] I could accom 
plish this, I would be satisfied. I am now 
growing old, and could spend the remnant of 
my time anywhere. But I wish first to see 
my people happy. I can then leave them 
cheerfully. This has always been my constant 
aim; and I now begin to hope that our sky 
will soon be clear. 

Ne-a-pope said: " The prophet told me that 
all the different tribes before mentioned would 
fight for us, if necessary, and the British 
would support us. And, if we should be 
whipped, (which is hardly possible,) we will 
still be safe, the prophet having received a 
friendly talk from the chief of Was-sa-cum- 
mi-co, (at Selkirk s settlement,) telling him, 
that if we were not satisfied in our country, to 
let him know, and he would make us happy. 
That he had received information from our 
British father, that we had been badly treated 
by the Americans. We must go and see the 
prophet. I will go first; you had better re 
main and get as many of our people to join us 
as you can. You now know every thing that 
we have done. We leave the matter with you 
to arrange among your people as you please. I 
will return to the prophet s village to-morrow. 

3tife of 

You can, in the mean time, make up your mind 
as to the course you will take, and send word 
to the prophet by me, as he is anxious to assist 
us, and wishes to know whether you will join 
us, and assist to make your people happy!" 

During that night, I thought over every 
thing that Ne-a-pope had told me, and was 
pleased to think that, [ 1 1 1 ] by a little exertion 
on my part, I could accomplish the object of 
all my wishes. I determined to follow the 
advice of the prophet, and sent word by Ne- 
a-pope, that I would get all my braves together, 
explain every thing that I had heard to them ; 
and recruit as many as I could from the differ 
ent villages. 

Accordingly, I sent word to Ke-o-kuck s 
band and the Fox tribe, and explained to them 
all the good news I had heard. They would 
not hear. Ke-o-kuck said that I had been 
imposed upon by liars, and had much better 
remain where I was and keep quiet. When 
he found that I was determined to make an 
attempt to secure my village, and fearing that 
some difficulty would arise, he made applica 
tion to the agent and great chief at St. Louis, 
for permission for the chiefs of our nation to 
go to Washington to see our Great Father, that 
we might have our difficulties settled amicably. 
Ke-o-kuck also requested the trader, who was 
going on to Washington, to call on our Great 
Father and explain everything to him, and ask 
for permission for us to come on and see him. 

Hife of 25Iatfe J^atofc 

Having heard nothing favorable from the 
great chief at St. Louis, I concluded that I 
had better keep my band together, and recruit 
as many more as possible, so that I would be 
prepared to make the attempt to rescue my vil 
lage in the spring, provided our Great Father did 
not send word for us to go to Washington, [i 12] 

The trader returned. He said he had called 
on our Great Father and made a full statement 
to him in relation to our difficulties, and had 
asked leave for us to go to Washington, but 
had received no answer. 

I had determined to listen to the advice of 
my friends and if permitted to go to see our 
Great Father, to abide by his counsel, what 
ever it might be. Every overture was made by 
Ke-o-kuck to prevent difficulty, and I anxiously 
hoped that something would be done for my 
people, that it might be avoided. But there was 
bad management somewhere, or the difficulty 
that has taken place would have been avoided. 

When it was ascertained that we would not 
be permitted to go to Washington, I resolved 
upon my course, and again tried to recruit 
some braves from Ke-o-kuck s band to accom 
pany me, but could not. 

Conceiving that the peaceable disposition of 
Ke-o-kuck and his people had been, in a great 
measure, the cause of our having been driven 
from our village, I ascribed their present feel 
ings to the same cause ; and immediately went 
to work to recruit all my own band, and made 

aiife of 25Iacft 

preparations to ascend Rock river. I made 
my encampment on the Mississippi, where fort 
Madison had stood; requested my people to 
rendezvous at that place, and sent out soldiers 
to bring in the warriors, and stationed my 
sentinels in a position to prevent any from 
moving up until all were ready. 

My party having all come in and got ready, 
we commenced our march up the Mississippi 
our women [113] and children in canoes, carry 
ing such provisions as we had, camp equipage, 
&c., and my braves and warriors on horse 
back, armed and equipped for defence. The 
prophet came down and joined us below 
Rock river, having called at Rock Island on 
his way down, to consult the war chief, agent, 
and trader, who, (he said) used many argu 
ments to dissuade him from going with us; 
and requested him to come and meet us, and 
turn us back. They told him also, there was 
a war chief on his way to Rock Island with a 
la*ge body of soldiers. 32 

32 This was General Atkinson, who had set out 
from Jefferson Barracks with the intention of com 
pelling the surrender of the Foxes who had murdered 
the Menominee at Prairie du Chien the preceding 
year. Thus it came about that Atkinson with a 
small force of regulars was on the spot, so to speak, 
when Black Hawk s invasion precipitated the war. 
Recognizing the insufficiency of his force to cope 
with the situation, he called on Governor Reynolds 
for assistance, and the latter, in turn, promptly 
issued a fiery summons to the Illinois militia to 
assemble " for the defense of their country." 


Itife of 2Macft 

The prophet said he would not listen to this 
talk, because no war chief dare molest us as 
long as we are at peace. That we had a right 
to go where we pleased peaceably; and advised 
me to say nothing to my braves and warriors 
until we encamped that night. We moved on 
ward until we arrived at the place where Gen. 
Gaines had made his encampment the year 
before, and encamped for the night. The 
prophet then addressed my braves and war 
riors. He told them to "follow us, and act 
like braves, and we had nothing to fear, but 
much to gain. That the American war chief 
might come, but he would not, nor dare not, 
interfere with us so long as we acted peaceably! 
That we were not yet ready to act otherwise. 
We must wait until we ascend Rock river 
and receive our reinforcements, and we will 
then be able to withstand any army!" 

That night the White Beaver, [Gen. Atkin 
son,] [114] with a party of soldiers, passed up 
in steam-boats. Our party became alarme^l, 
expecting to meet soldiers at Rock river, to 
prevent us from going up. On our arrival at 
its mouth, we discovered that the steam-boats 
had passed on. I was fearful that the war 
chief had stationed his men on some bluff, or 
in some ravine, that we might be taken by 
surprise. Consequently, on entering Rock 
river, we commenced beating our drums and 
singing to show the Americans that we were 
not afraid. 


3tife of 

Having met with no opposition, we moved 
up Rock river leisurely some distance, when 
we were overtaken by an express from the 
White Beaver, with an ORDER for me to re 
turn with my band, and recross the Mississippi 
again. I sent him word that "I would not, 
( not recognizing his right to make such a de 
mand,) as I was acting peaceably, and intended 
to go to the prophet s village, at his request, 
to make corn." 

The express returned. We moved on, and 
encamped some distance below the prophet s 
village. Here another express came from the 
White Beaver, threatening to pursue us and 
drive us back, if we did not return peaceably! 
This message roused the spirit of my band, 
and all were determined to remain with me 
and contest the ground with the war chief, 
should he come and attempt to drive us. We 
therefore directed the express to say to the war 
chief, " if he wished to fight us, he might come 
on ! " We were determined never to be driven, 
and equally so, not to [115] make the first 
attack, our object being to act only on the de 
fensive. This we conceived our right. 

Soon after the express returned, Mr. Gratiot, 
sub-agent for the Winnebagoes, with several 
of the chiefs and headmen of the Winnebago 
nation, came to our encampment. He had 
no interpreter and was compelled to talk 
through his chiefs. They said the object of 
his mission was, to persuade us to return. 

Hife of 2Macft 

But they advised us to go on assuring us that 
the further we went up Rock river the more 
friends we would meet, and our situation be 
bettered; that they were on our side, and all 
their people were our friends: that we must 
not give up but continue to ascend Rock 
river, on which, in a short time, we would 
receive a reinforcement sufficiently strong to 
repulse any enemy! They said they would go 
down with their agent, to ascertain the strength 
of the enemy, and then return and give us 
the news : that they had to use some stratagem 
to deceive their agent, in order to help us! 

During this council, a number of my braves 
hoisted the British flag, mounted their horses, 
and surrounded the council lodge! I discov 
ered that the agent was very much frightened! 
I told one of his chiefs to tell him that he 
need not be alarmed and then went out and 
directed my braves to desist. Every warrior 
immediately dismounted and returned to his 
lodge. After the council adjourned, I placed 
a sentinel at the agent s lodge, to guard him 
fearing that some of my warriors might again 
frighten him! I had always [116] thought 
that he was a good man, and was determined 
that he should not be hurt. He started, with 
his chiefs, for Rock Island. 33 

33 The family account of Gratiot s experiences 

upon his mission to the Indians bears quite a 

different complexion than does Black Hawk s 

story. According to the former, Gratiot s escape 


Jttfe of 25Iacft J^atoft 

Having ascertained that the White Beaver 
would not permit us to remain here, I began 
to consider what was best to be done, and con 
cluded to keep up the river and see the 
Pottowattomies, and have a talk with them. 
Several Winnebago chiefs were present, whom 
I advised of my intentions, as they did not 
seem disposed to render us any assistance. I 
asked them if they had not sent us wampum 
during the winter, and requested us to come 
and join their people and enjoy all the rights 
and privileges of their country? They did 
not deny this ; and said if the white people 
did not interfere, they had no objection to our 
making corn this year with our friend the 
prophet ; but did not wish us to go any further 

The next day, I started with my party to 
Kish-wa-co-kee. 34 That night I encamped a 
short distance above the prophet s village. 
After all was quiet in my camp, I sent for my 
chiefs, and told them that we had been deceived! 
That all the fair promises that had been held 
out to us, through Ne-a-pope, were false! 
But it would not do to let our party know it. 
We must keep it secret among ourselves 

was due to the active assistance of the Prophet, 
and Black Hawk is given no credit in this con 
nection. See Wisconsin Historical Collections, X, 

^Kishwaukee River, which empties into Rock 
River a few miles below Rockford, 111. 


Hife of 25lacft fatoft 

and move on to Kish-wa-co-kee, as if all was 
right, and say something on the way to en 
courage our people. I will then call on the 
Pottowattomies, and hear what they say, and 
see what they will do. 

[117] We started the next morning, after 
telling our people that news had just come 
from Mil-wa-kee that a chief of our British 
Father would be there in a few days! 

Finding that all our plans were defeated, I 
told the prophet that he must go with me, and 
we would see what could be done with the 
Pottowattomies. On our arrival at Kish-wa- 
co-kee, an express was sent to the Pottowat- 
tomie villages. The next day a deputation 
arrived. I inquired if they had corn in their 
villages? They said they had a very little 
and could not spare any! I asked them 
different questions, and received unsatisfactory 
answers. This talk was in the presence of all 
my people. I afterwards spoke to them pri 
vately, and requested them to come to my lodge 
after my people had got to sleep. They came, 
and took seats. I asked them if they had re 
ceived any news from the lake from the British ? 
They said no. I inquired if they had heard 
that a chief of our British Father was coming 
to Mil-wa-kee to bring us guns, ammunition, 
goods and provisions? They said, no! I 
then told them what news had been brought 
to me, and requested them to return to their 

Sife of 2Macfe 

village, and tell the chiefs that I wished to see 
them and have a talk with them. 

After this deputation started, I concluded 
to tell my people, that if the White Beaver 
came after us, we would go back as it was 
useless to think of stopping or going on 
without provisions. I discovered that the 
[118] Winnebagoes and Potto wattomies were 
not disposed to render us any assistance. 
The next day the Pottowattomie chiefs arrived 
at my camp. I had a dog killed, and made a 
feast. When it was ready, I spread my medi 
cine bags, and the chiefs began to eat. When 
the ceremony was about ending, I received 
news, that three or four hundred white men, 
on horse-back, had been seen about eight miles 
off. I immediately started three young men, 
with a white flag, to meet them, and conduct 
them to our camp, that we might hold a council 
with them, and descend Rock river again. 
And directed them, in case the whites had en 
camped, to return, and I would go and see 
them. After this party had started, I sent 
five young men to see what might take place. 
The first party went to the encampment of the 
whites, and were taken prisoners. The last 
party had not proceeded far, before they saw 
about twenty men coming towards them in full 
gallop! They stopped, and finding that the 
whites were coming so fast in a warlike atti 
tude, they turned and retreated, but were pur- 

Hife of 25iacft J^atofe 

sued, and two of them overtaken and killed! 
The others made their escape. When they 
came in with the news, I was preparing my 
flags to meet the war chief. The alarm was 
given. Nearly all my young men were absent, 
about ten miles off. I started with what I had 
left, (about forty,} and had proceeded but a 
short distance, before we saw a part of the 
army approaching. I raised a yell, and said 
to my braves: "Some-of our people have 
been killed! [119] wantonly and cruelly mur 
dered! We must revenge their death!" 

In a little while we discovered the whole 
army coming towards us in full gallop! We 
were now confident that our first party had 
been killed! I immediately placed my men in 
front of some bushes, that we might have the 
first fire, when they approached close enough. 
They made a halt some distance from us. I 
gave another yell, and ordered my brave war 
riors to charge upon them expecting that we 
would all be killed ! They did charge ! Every 
man rushed and fired, and the enemy retreated! 
in the utmost confusion and consternation, 
before my little, but brave band of warriors! 

After pursuing the enemy some distance, I 
found it useless to follow them, as they rode 
so fast, and returned to my encampment with 
a few of my braves, (about twenty -five having 
gone in pursuit of the enemy.) I lighted my 
pipe, and sat down to thank the Great Spirit 
for what we had done. I had not been long 

3ltfe of 

meditating, when two of the three young men 
I had sent with the flag to meet the American 
war chief, entered! My astonishment was not 
greater than my joy to see them living and 
well. I eagerly listened to their story, which 
was as follows : 

"When we arrived near to the encampment 
of the whites, a number of them rushed out 
to meet us, bringing their guns with them. 
They took us into their camp, where an Amer 
ican, who spoke the Sac Ian- [120] guage a 
little, told us that his chief wanted to know 
how we were where we were going where 
our camp was and where Black Hawk was? 
We told him that we had come to see his chief; 
that our chief had directed us to conduct him 
to our camp, in case he had not encamped; 
and, in that event, to tell him, that he [Black 
Hawk] would come to see him; he wished to 
hold a council with him, as he had given up 
all intention of going to war. 

"At the conclusion of this talk, a party of 
white men came in, on horseback. We saw 
by their countenances that something had hap 
pened. A general tumult arose. They looked 
at us with indignation talked among them 
selves for a moment when several cocked 
their guns in a second, they fired at us in the 
crowd; our companion fell dead! We rushed 
through the crowd and made our escape. We 
remained in ambush but a short time, before 
we heard yelling, like Indians running an 

3life of S&lacft i^atofc 

enemy. In a little while we saw some of the 
whites in full speed. One of them carne near 
us. I threw my tomahawk, and struck him 
on the head, which brought him to the ground! 
I ran to him, and with his own knife, took off 
his scalp! I took his gun, mounted his horse, 
and took my friend here behind me. We 
turned to follow our braves, who were running 
the enemy, and had not gone far before we 
overtook a white man, whose horse had mired 
in a swamp! My friend alighted, and toma 
hawked the man, who was apparently fast 
under his horse! He [121] took his scalp, 
horse, and gun/ By this time our party was 
some distance ahead. We followed on, and 
saw several white men lying dead in the way. 
After riding about six miles, we met our party 
returning. We asked them how many of our 
men had been killed ? They said none, after the 
Americans retreated. We inquired then, how 
many whites had been killed ? They replied, 
that they did not know; but said we will soon 
ascertain, as we must scalp them as we go 
back. On our return, we found ten men, be 
sides the two we had killed before we joined 
our friends. Seeing that they did not yet 
recognize us, it being dark, we again asked, 
how many of our braves had been killed? 
They said five! We asked, who they were ? 
They replied that the first party of three, who 
went out to meet the American war chief, had 
all been taken prisoners, and killed in the en- 

ffiife of SMacft 

campment; and that out of a party of five, 
who followed to see the meeting of the first 
party and the whites, two had been killed! 
We were now certain that they did not recog 
nize us nor did we tell them who we were 
until we arrived at our camp! The news of 
our death had reached it some time before, 
and all were surprised to see us again." 

The next morning I told the crier of my 
village to give notice that we must go and bury 
our dead. In a little while all were ready. A 
small deputation was sent for our absent war 
riors, and the remainder started. We first 
disposed of our dead, and then commenced 
[122] an examination, in the enemy s deserted 
encampment, for plunder. We found arms, 
ammunition, and provisions, all which we were 
in want of particularly the latter, as we were 
entirely without. We found, also, a variety 
of saddle-bags, (which I distributed among my 
braves,) and a small quantity of whisky! and 
some little barrels that had contained this bad 
medicine; but they were empty! I was sur 
prised to find that the whites carried whisky 
with them, as I had understood that all the 
pale faces belonged to the temperance societies! 

The enemy s encampment was in a skirt of 
woods near a run, about half a day s travel 
from Dixon s ferry. We attacked them in the 
prairie, with a few bushes between us, about 
sundown, and I expected that my whole party 
would be killed! I never was so much sur- 

Hife of 25lach I^atoft 

prised, in all the fighting I have seen know 
ing, too, that the Americans, generally, shoot 
well as I was to see this army of several 
hundreds, retreating! WITHOUT SHOW 
ING FIGHT!! and passing immediately 
through their encampment. I did think that 
they intended to halt here, as the situation 
would have forbidden attack by my party, if 
their number had not exceeded half mine! as 
we would have been compelled to take the 
open prairie, whilst they could have picked trees 
to shield themselves from our fire! 

Never was I so much surprised in my life, 
as I was in this attack! An army of three or 
four hundred, [123] after having learned that 
we were sueing for peace, to attempt to kill 
the flag-bearers that had gone, unarmed, to 
ask for a meeting of the war chiefs of the two 
contending parties to hold a council, that I 
might return to the west side of the Missis 
sippi, to come forward, with a full determina 
tion to demolish the few braves I had with me, 
to retreat when they had ten to one, was un 
accountable to me. It proved a different 
spirit from any I had ever before seen among 
the pale faces! I expected to see them fight 
as the Americans did with the British during 
the last war! but they had no such braves 
among them! 35 

35 The conflict here described, known as the battle 
of Stillman s Run or Stillman s Defeat, occurred 
May 14, 1832, a few miles southwest of the mouth 

3tife of 

I had resolved on giving up the war and 
sent a flag of peace to the American war chief 
expecting, as a matter of right, reason and 
justice, that our flag would be respected, (I 
have always seen it so in war among the 
whites,) and a council convened, that we might 
explain our grievances, having been driven 
from our village the year before, without being 
permitted to gather the corn and provisions 
which our women had labored hard to culti 
vate, and ask for permission to return thereby 
giving up all idea of going to war against the 

Yet, instead of this honorable course which 
I have always practised in war, I was forced 
into WAR, with about five hundred warriors, 
to contend against three or four thousand! 

The supplies that Ne-a-pope and the prophet 
told us about, and the reinforcements we were 
to have, [ 124] were never more heard of; (and 
it is but justice to our British Father to say, 
were never promised his chief having sent 
word in lieu of the lies that were brought to me 

TO WAR: } 

What was now to be done ? It was worse 
than folly to turn back and meet an enemy 

of Sycamore Creek, in Ogle County, Illinois. Black 
Hawk s description of the disgraceful affair is sub 
stantially correct. 

fe of 2Macft l^atoft 

where the odds were so much against us 
and thereby sacrifice ourselves, our wives and 
children, to the fury of an enemy who had 
murdered some of our brave and unarmed 
warriors, when they were on a mission to sue 
for peace ! 

Having returned to our encampment, and 
found that all our young men had come in, I 
sent out spies, to watch the movement of the 
army, and commenced moving up Kish-wa-co- 
kee with the balance of my people. I did not 
know where to go to find a place of safety for 
my women and children, but expected to find 
a good harbor about the head of Rock river. 
I concluded to go there and thought my best 
route would be to go round the head of Kish- 
wa-co-kee, so that the Americans would have 
some difficulty, if they attempted to follow us. 

On arriving at the head of Kish-wa-co-kee, 
I was met by a party of Winnebagoes, who 
seemed to rejoice at our success. They said 
they had come to offer their services, and were 
anxious to join us. I asked them if they knew 
where there was a safe [125] place for my 
women and children. They told me that they 
would send two old men with us to guide us to 
a good safe place. 

I arranged war parties to send out in differ 
ent directions, before I proceeded further. 
The Winnebagoes went alone. The war par 
ties having all been fitted out and started, we 
commenced moving to the Four Lakes, the 

ttife of 

place where our guides were to conduct us. 
We had not gone far, before six Winnebagoes 
came in with one scalp! They said they had 
killed a man at a grove, on the road from 
Dixon s to the lead mines. 36 Four days after, 
the party of Winnebagoes who had gone out 
from the head of Kish-wa-co-kee, overtook us, 
and told me that they had killed four men, and 
taken their scalps; and that one of them was 
Ke-o-kuck s father, (the agent). 37 They pro 
posed to have a dance over their scalps! I 
told them that I could have no dancing in my 
camp, in consequence of my having lost three 
young braves; but they might dance in their 
own camp which they did. 

Two days after, we arrived in safety at the 
place where the Winnebagoes had directed us. 
In a few days a great number of our warriors 
came in. I called them all around me, and 
addressed them. I told them, "Now is the 
time, if any of you wish to come into distinc 
tion, and be honored with the medicine bag! 
Now is the time to show your courage and 
bravery, and avenge the murder of our three 
braves!" [126] Several small parties went 

36 This was William Durley, killed near Polo, Illi 
nois, May 19, 1832. For an account of the affair 
see Stevens, op. cit., 142. 

37 Felix St. Vrain, successor of Thomas Forsyth 
in charge of the Indian agency at Rock Island. On 
the massacre of St. Vrain and his companions see 
Stevens, op, cit., 169-70. 


Jlife of SWatfe 

out, and returned again in a few days, with 
success bringing in provision for our people. 
In the meantime, some spies came in, and re 
ported that the army had fallen back to Dixon s 
ferry; and others brought news that the horse 
men had broken up their camp, disbanded, and 
returned home. 

Finding that all was safe, I made a dog 
feast, preparatory to leaving my camp with a 
large party, ( as the enemy were stationed so 
far off.) Before my braves commenced feast 
ing, I took my medicine bags, and addressed 
them in the following language : 

" Br&ves and Warriors: These are the 
medicine bags of our forefather, Muk-a-ta- 
quet, who was the father of the Sac nation. 
They were handed down to the great war chief 
of our nation, Na-na-ma-kee, who has been at 
war with all the nations of the lakes and all the 
nations of the plains, and have never yet been 
disgraced! I expect you all to protect them!" 

After the ceremony was over, and our feast 
ing done, I started with about two hundred 
warriors, following my great medicine bags. 
I directed my course towards sunset, and 
dreamed, the second night after we started, 
that there was a great feast for us after 
one day s travel! I told my warriors my 
dream in the morning, and we all started for 
Mos-co-ho-co-y-nak, [Apple river.] When 
we arrived in the vicinity of a fort the white 
people had built [ 127] there we saw four men 

life of OTacft 

on horseback. One of my braves fired and 
wounded a man, when the others set up a yell, 
as if a large force were near and ready to come 
against us. We concealed ourselves, and re 
mained in this position for some time, watching 
to see the enemy approach but none came. 
The four men, in the meantime, ran to the 
fort and gave the alarm. We followed them, 
and attacked their fort! 3S One of their braves, 
who seemed more valiant than the rest, raised 
his head above the picketing to fire at us, when 
one of my braves, with a well directed shot, 
put an end to his bravery! Finding that these 
people could not all be killed, without setting 
fire to their houses and fort, I thought it more 
prudent to be content with what flour, pro 
visions, cattle and horses we could find, than 
to set fire to their buildings, as the light would 
be seen at a distance, and the army might 
suppose that we were in the neighborhood, 
and come upon us with a force too strong. 
Accordingly, we opened a house and filled our 
bags with flour and provisions took several 
horses, and drove off some of their cattle. 

We started in a direction towards sunrise. 
After marching a considerable time, I discov 
ered some white men coming towards us. I 
told my braves that we would get into the 

38 Apple River Fort was about fourteen miles east 
of Galena, Illinois. Black Hawk s futile attack upon 
it occurred June 24, 1832. An interesting account 
of the attack is given by Stevens, op. cit., 185-87. 

Slife of 2BIacfc 

woods and kill them when they approached. 
We concealed ourselves until they came near 
enough, and then commenced yelling and firing, 
and made a rush upon them. 39 About this 
time, their chief, with a party of men, rushed 
up to rescue the [ 128] men we had fired upon. 
In a little while they commenced retreating, 
and left their chief and a few braves, who 
seemed willing and anxious to fight! They 
acted like braves, but were forced to give way 
when I rushed upon them with my braves. 
In a short time the chief returned with a larger 
party. He seemed determined to fight, and 
anxious for a battle! When he came near 
enough, I raised the yell and firing, commenced 
from both sides. The chief (who seemed to 
be a small man) addressed his warriors in a 
loud voice; but they soon retreated, leaving 
him and a few braves on the battle-field. A 
great number of my warriors pursued the re 
treating party, and killed a number of their 
horses as they ran. The chief and his few 
braves were unwilling to leave the field. I 
ordered my braves to rush upon them, and had 
the mortification of seeing two of my chiefs 
killed, before the enemy retreated. 

39 This was the attack made upon Major Dement s 
company at Kellogg s Grove, on June 25. The 
"chief" who excited the admiration of Black Hawk 
was, of course, Major Dement. His conduct on 
this occasion stands in brilliant contrast with that of 
Stillman and others of the Illinois militia under 
similar circumstances. 


3life of SMacft J^atoft 

This young chief deserves great praise for 
his courage and bravery; but fortunately for 
us, his army was not all composed of such 
brave men! 

During this attack, we killed several men 
and about forty horses, and lost two young 
chiefs and seven warriors. My braves were 
anxious to pursue them to the fort, attack, and 
burn it. But I told them that it was useless 
to waste our powder, as there was no possible 
chance of success if we did attack them and 
that, as we had run the bear into his hole, we 
would there leave him, and return to our camp. 

On arriving at our encampment we found 
that sev-[i29] eral parties of our spies had re 
turned, bringing intelligence that the army had 
commenced moving. Another party of five 
came in and said they had been pursued for 
several hours, and were attacked by twenty- 
five or thirty whites in the woods; that the 
whites rushed in upon them, as they lay con 
cealed, and received their fire without seeing 
them. They immediately retreated, whilst we 
reloaded. They entered the thicket again, and 
as soon as they came near enough, we fired! 
Again they retreated, and again they rushed 
into the thicket and fired! We returned their 
fire, and a skirmish ensued between two of 
their men and one of ours, who was killed by 
having his throat cut ! This was the only man 
we lost. The enemy having had three killed, 
they again retreated. 

of 2Macfc 

Another party of three Sacs had come in, 
and brought in two young squaws, whom they 
had given to the Winnebagoes, to take to the 
whites. They said they had joined a party of 
Pottowattomies, and went with them as a war 
party, against the settlers on the Illinois. 40 

The leader of this party, a Pottowattomie, 
had been severely whipped by this settler, 
some time before, and was anxious to avenge 
the insult and injury. While the party was 
preparing to start, a young Pottowattomie 
went to the settler s house, and told him to 
leave it that a war party was coming to 
murder them. They started, but soon returned 
again, as it appeared that they were all there 
when the war party arrived! [130] The Pot 
towattomies killed the whole family, except 
two young squaws, whom the Sacs took up on 
their horses, and carried off to save their lives. 
They were brought to our encampment, and 
a messenger sent to the Winnebagoes, as they 
were friendly on both sides, to come and get 
them, and carry them to the whites. If these 
young men belonging to my band, had not 
gone with the Pottowattomies, the two young 
squaws would have shared the same fate as 
their friends. 

40 The allusion in this paragraph is to the bloody 
Indian Creek massacre a dozen miles north of Ottawa, 
Illinois, May 20, 1832. The "young squaws" were 
Rachael and Sylvia Hall, the only survivors of the 
massacre. For their story see Stevens, op.cit., 146 ff. 

ft of SSlacfc 

During our encampment at the Four Lakes, 
we were hard put to obtain enough to eat to 
support nature. Situate in a swampy, marshy 
country, (which had been selected in conse 
quence of the great difficulty required to gain 
access thereto,) there was but little game of 
any sort to be found and fish were equally 
scarce. The great distance to any settlement, 
and the impossibility of bringing supplies there 
from, if any could have been obtained, deterred 
our young men from making further attempts. 
We were forced to dig roots and bark trees, to 
obtain something to satisfy hunger and keep 
us alive! Several of our old people became 
so much reduced, as actually to die with hun 
ger! And, finding that the army had com 
menced moving, and fearing that they might 
come upon and surround our encampment, I 
concluded to remove my women and children 
across the Mississippi, that they might return 
to the Sac nation again. Accordingly, on the 
next day, we commenced moving, with [131] 
five Winnebagoes acting as our guides, intend 
ing to descend the Ouisconsin. 

Ne-a-pope, with a party of twenty, remained 
in our rear, to watch for the enemy, whilst we 
were proceeding to the Ouisconsin, with our 
women and children. We arrived, and had 
commenced crossing them to an island, when 
we discovered a large body of the enemy com 
ing towards us. We were now compelled to 
fight, or sacrifice our wives and children to 

3life of 25Iacfe 

the fury of the whites ! I met them with fifty 
warriors, (having left the balance to assist 
our women and children in crossing,) about a 
mile from the river, when an attack immedi 
ately commenced. I was mounted on a fine 
horse, and was pleased to see my warriors so 
brave. I addressed them in a loud voice, 
telling them to stand their ground, and never 
yield it to the enemy. At this time I was on 
the rise of a hill, where I wished to form my 
warriors, that we might have some advantage 
over the whites. But the enemy succeeded in 
gaining this point, which compelled us to fall 
back into a deep ravine, from which we con 
tinued firing at them and they at us, until it 
began to grow dark. My horse having been 
wounded twice during this engagement, and 
fearing from his loss of blood, that he would 
soon give out and finding that the enemy 
would not come near enough to receive our 
fire, in the dusk of the evening and knowing 
that our women and children had had sufficient 
time to reach the island in the Ouisconsin, I 
ordered my warriors to return, in differ-[i32] 
ent routes, and meet me at the Ouisconsin 
and were astonished to find that the enemy 
were not disposed to pursue us. 

In this skirmish, with fifty braves, I defended 
and accomplished my passage over the Ouis 
consin, with a loss of only six men; though 
opposed by a host of mounted militia. I would 
not have fought there, but to gain time for my 


tfe of 25tatft 

women and children to cross to an island. A 
warrior will duly appreciate the embarrass 
ments I labored under and whatever may be 
the sentiments of the white people, in relation 
to this battle, my nation, though fallen, will 
award to me the reputation of a great brave, 
in conducting it. 41 

The loss of the enemy could not be ascer 
tained by our party; but I am of opinion that 
it was much greater, in proportion, than mine. 
We returned to the Ouisconsin, and crossed 
over to our people. 

Here some of my people left me, and de 
scended the Ouisconsin, hoping to escape to 
the west side of the Mississippi, that they 
might return home. I had no objection to 
their leaving me, as my people were all in a 
desperate condition being worn out with 
travelling, and starving from hunger. Our 
only hope to save ourselves was to get across 
the Mississippi. But few of this party escaped. 
Unfortunately for them, a party of soldiers 
from Prairie du Chien, was stationed on the 
Ouisconsin, a short distance from its mouth, 

41 This fight, known as the Battle of Wisconsin 
Heights, took place June 21, about twenty-five miles 
northwest of Madison, Wisconsin. Except on the 
point of the respective losses, white accounts of the 
battle do not differ materially from Black Hawk s 
story; and opinion may well accord the recognition 
which Black Hawk here claims, of having conducted 
a brave and clever action with the odds heavily 
against him. 


3tife of 25Iatft 

who fired upon our distressed people. Some 
were killed, others drowned, and several taken 
pris-[i33] oners, and the balance escaped to 
the woods and perished with hunger. 42 Among 
this party were a great many women and chil 

I was astonished to find that Ne-a-pope and 
his party of spies had not yet come in they 
having been left in my rear to bring the news, 
if the enemy were discovered. It appeared, 
however, that the whites had come in a differ 
ent direction, and intercepted our trail but a 
short distance from the place where we first 
saw them leaving our spies considerably in 
the rear. Ne-a-pope, and one other, retired 
to the Winnebago village, and there remained 
during the war! The balance of his party, 
being brave men, and considering our interest 
as their own, returned, and joined our ranks. 

Myself and band having no means to descend 
the Ouisconsin, I started, over a rugged coun 
try, to go to the Mississippi, intending to cross 
it, and return to my nation. Many of our 
people were compelled to go on foot, for want 
of horses, which, in consequence of their hav- 

42 The destruction of this party of fugitive non- 
combatants, composed almost wholly of old men, 
women, and children, constitutes one of the least 
creditable aspects of the war from the white stand 
point. After stating the expectations with which 
the party set out, Thwaites dryly remarks, "But 
too much faith was placed in the humanity of the 


Hife of 

ing had nothing to eat for a long time, caused 
our march to be very slow. At length we 
arrived at the Mississippi, 43 having lost some 
of our old men and little children, who perished 
on the way with hunger. 

We had been here but a little while, before 
we saw a steam boat (the "Warrior,") coming. 
I told my braves not to shoot, as I intended 
going on board, so that we might save our 
women and children. I knew the captain 
[THROCKMORTON,] and was determined 
to [ J 34] gi ve myself up to him. I then sent 
for my white flag. While the messenger was 
gone, I took a small piece of white cotton, and 
put it on a pole, and called to the captain of 
the boat, and told him to send his little canoe 
ashore, and let me come on board. The people 
on board asked whether we were Sacs or Winne- 
bagoes. I told a Winnebago to tell them that 
we were Sacs, and wanted to give ourselves 
up ! A Winnebago on the boat called to us 
"to run and hide, that the whites were going to 
shoot!" About this time one of my braves 
had jumped into the river, bearing a white flag 
to the boat when another sprang in after him 
and brought him to shore. The firing then 
commenced from the boat, which was returned 

43 At a point about two miles below the mouth of 
Bad Axe River, and almost directly opposite the 
northern boundary of Iowa. Here was shortly 
enacted the pitiful tragedy known as the battle of 
Bad Axe. 


3tifc of 23Iach 

by my braves, and continued for some time. 
Very few of my people were hurt after the 
first fire, having succeeded in getting behind 
old logs and trees, which shielded them from 
the enemy s fire. 

The Winnebago, on the steam boat must 
either have misunderstood what was told, or 
did not tell it to the captain correctly ; because 
I am confident that he would not have fired 
upon us, if he had known my wishes. I have 
always considered him a good man, and too 
great a brave to fire upon an enemy when 
sueing for quarters. 

After the boat left us, I told my people to 
cross, if they could, and wished : that I intended 
going into the Chippewa country. Some com 
menced crossing, and such as had determined 
to follow them, remained [135] only three 
lodges going with me. Next morning, at day 
break, a young man overtook me, and said 
that all my party had determined to cross the 
Mississippi that a number had already got 
over safe, and that he had heard the white 
army last night within a few miles of them. 
I now began to fear that the whites would 
come up with my people, and kill them, before 
they could get across. I had determined to 
go and join the Chippewas ; but reflecting that 
by this I could only save myself, I concluded 
to return, and die with my people, if the Great 
Spirit would not give us another victory! 
During our stay in the thicket, a party of 

Eifc of 25facft 

whites came close by us, but passed on with 
out discovering us. 

Early in the morning a party of whites, being 
in advance of the army, came upon our people, 
who were attempting to cross the Mississippi. 
They tried to give themselves up the whites 
paid no attention to their entreaties but com 
menced slaughtering them! In a little while 
the whole army arrived. Our braves, but few 
in number, finding that the enemy paid no 
regard to age or sex, and seeing that they 
were murdering helpless women and little chil 
dren, determined to fight until they were killed! 
As many women as could, commenced swim 
ming the Mississippi, with their children on 
their backs. A number of them were drowned, 
and some shot, before they could reach the 
opposite shore. 44 

One of my braves, who gave me this infor 
mation, [136] piled up some saddles before 
him, (when the fight commenced,) to shield 
himself from the enemy s fire, and killed three 
white men ! But seeing that the whites were 
coming too close to him, he crawled to the 

44 "Some of the fugitives succeeded in swimming 
to the west bank of the Mississippi, but many were 
drowned on the way, or coolly picked ofif by sharp 
shooters, who exercised no more mercy towards 
squaws and children than they did towards braves 
treating them all as though they were rats instead of 
human beings." Thwaites, "Story of the Black 
Hawk War," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
XII, 260. 


Jlife of 25lacft i^atofe 

bank of the river, without being perceived, and 
hid himself under it, until the enemy retired. 
He then came to me and told me what had 
been done. After hearing this sorrowful news, 
I started, with my little party, to the Winne- 
bago village at Prairie La Cross. 45 On my 
arrival there, I entered the lodge of one of the 
chiefs, and told him that I wished him to go 
with me to his father that I intended to give 
myself up to the American war chief, and die, 
if the Great Spirit saw proper! He said he 
would go with me. I then took my medicine 
bag, and addressed the chief. I told him that 
it was "the soul of the Sac nation that it 
never had been dishonored in any battle 
take it, it is my life dearer than life and 
give it to the American chief!" He said he 
would keep it, and take care of it, and if I was 
suffered to live, he would send it to me. 

During my stay at the village, the squaws 
made me a white dress of deer skin. I then 
started, with several Winnebagoes, and went 
to their agent, at Prairie du Chien, and gave 
myself up. 

On my arrival there, I found to my sorrow, 
that a large body of Sioux had pursued, and 
killed, a number of our women and children, 
who had got safely across the Mississippi. 
The whites ought not to have permitted such 

45 This was on the site of the modern city of 
La Crosse. On the capture of Black Hawk see 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, VIII, 316. 

life of 2Macft 

conduct and none but cowards would ever 
[137] have been guilty of such cruelty which 
has always been practiced on our nation by 
the Sioux. 

The massacre, which terminated the war, 
lasted about two hours. Our loss in killed, 
was about sixty, besides a number that were 
drowned. The loss of the enemy could not 
be ascertained by my braves, exactly; but they 
think that they killed about sixteen, during the 
action. 46 

I was now given up by the agent to the 
commanding officer at fort Crawford, ( the 
White Beaver having gone down the river.) 
We remained here a short time, and then 
started to Jefferson Barracks, in a steam boat, 
under the charge of a young war chief, [ Lieut. 
Jefferson Davis] who treated us all with much 
kindness. He is a good and brave young 
chief, with whose conduct I was much pleased. 47 

46 Black Hawk s statement of the white loss is quite 
accurate, but he greatly understates the Indian loss 
in the battle and the succeeding massacre. For the 
battle of Bad Axe, Thwaites gives the white casual 
ties as seventeen killed and twelve wounded; while 
of the Indians 150 were killed outright and as many 
more were drowned. About 300 safely crossed the 
Mississippi before and during the battle, one half of 
whom were slain by the Sioux band set on them by 
General Atkinson s orders in the massacre at which 
Black Hawk expresses his indignation. 

47 Apparently the feeling was reciprocated. A 
campaign life of Davis published in 1851 at the time 
of his candidacy for the governorship of Mississippi 

ttifc of 2Macfc l^atoft 

On our way down, we called at Galena, and 
remained a short time. The people crowded 
to the boat to see us ; but the war chief would 
not permit them to enter the apartment where 
we were knowing, from what his own feel 
ings would have been, if he had been placed 
in a similar situation, that we did not wish to 
have a gaping crowd around us. 

We passed Rock Island, without stopping. 
The great war chief, [Gen. Scott,] who was 
then at fort Armstrong, came out in a small 
boat to see us ; but the captain of the steam 
boat would not allow any body from the fort 
to come on board of his boat, in consequence 
of the cholera raging among the soldiers. 48 I 
[138] did think that the captain ought to have 
permitted the war chief to come on board to 
see me, because I could see no danger to be 
apprehended by it. The war chief looked well, 
and I have since heard, was constantly among 
his soldiers, who were sick and dying, adminis 
tering to their wants, and had not caught the 
disease from them and I thought it absurd 
to think that any of the people on the steam 
boat could be afraid of catching the disease 

states that "he entirely won the heart of the savage 
chieftain, and before they reached Jefferson Barracks 
there had sprung up between the stern red warrior 
and the young pale face a warm friendship which 
only terminated with the life of Black Hawk." 

48 For an account of the cholera epidemic of 1832 
and its bearing on the Black Hawk War, see 
Quaife, op. /., chap. XIV. 

It ife of S&Iarft 

from a well man. But these people have not 
got bravery like war chiefs, who never fear 
any thing ! 

On our way down, I surveyed the country 
that had cost us so much trouble, anxiety, and 
blood, and that now caused me to be a prisoner 
of war. I reflected upon the ingratitude of 
the whites, when I saw their fine houses, rich 
harvests, and every thing desirable around 
them; and recollected that all this land had 
been ours, for which me and my people had 
never received a dollar, and that the whites 
were not satisfied until they took our village 
and our grave-yards from us, and removed us 
across the Mississippi. 

On our arrival at Jefferson barracks, we met 
the great war chief, [White Beaver,] who had 
commanded the American army against my 
little band. I felt the humiliation of my situ 
ation : a little while before, I had been leader 
of my braves, now I was a prisoner of war! 
but had surrendered myself. He received us 
kindly, and treated us well. 

We were now confined to the barracks, and 
forced [ 139 ] to wear the ball and chain ! This 
was extremely mortifying, and altogether use 
less. Was the White Beaver afraid that I 
would break out of his barracks, and run away? 
Or was he ordered to inflict this punishment 
upon me ? If I had taken him prisoner on the 
field of battle, I would not have wounded his 
feelings so much, by such treatment knowing 

life of 2Macft l^atoft 

that a brave war chief would prefer death to 
dishonor! But I do not blame the White 
Beaver for the course he pursued as it is 
the custom among white soldiers, and, I sup 
pose, was a part of his duty. 

The time dragged heavily and gloomily along 
throughout the winter, although the White Bea 
ver done every thing in his power to render 
us comfortable. Having been accustomed, 
throughout a long life, to roam the forests o er 
to go and come at liberty confinement, and 
under such circumstances, could not be less 
than torture! 

We passed away the time making pipes, until 
spring, when we were visited by the agent, 
trader, and interpreter, from Rock Island, 
Ke-o-kuck, and several chiefs and braves of 
our nation, and my wife and daughter. I was 
rejoiced to see the two latter, and spent my 
time very agreeably with them and my people, 
as long as they remained. 

The trader, presented me with some dried 
venison, which had been killed and cured by 
some of my friends. This was a valuable 
present; and although he had given me many 
before, none ever pleased me [140] so much. 
This was the first meat I had eaten for a long 
time, that reminded me of the former pleas 
ures of my own wigwam, which had always 
been stored with plenty. 

Ke-o-kuck and his chiefs, during their stay 
at the barracks, petitioned our Great Father, 

ffiife of 3Miirk 

the president, to release us; and pledged them 
selves for our good conduct. I now began to 
hope that I would soon be restored to liberty, 
and the enjoyment of my family and friends; 
having heard that Ke-o-kuck stood high in the 
estimation of our Great Father, because he 
did not join me in the war. But I was soon 
disappointed in my hopes. An order came 
from our Great Father to the White Beaver, 
to send us on to Washington. 

In a little while all were ready, and left 
Jefferson barracks on board of a steam boat, 
under charge of a young war chief, whom the 
White Beaver sent along as a guide to Wash 
ington. He carried with him an interpreter 
and one soldier. On our way up the Ohio, 
we passed several large villages, the names of 
which were explained to me. The first is 
called Louisville, and is a very pretty village, 
situate on the bank of the Ohio river. The 
next is Cincinnati, which stands on the bank 
of the same river. This is a large and beau 
tiful village, and seemed to be in a thriving 
condition. The people gathered on the bank 
as we passed, in great crowds, apparently 
anxious to see us. 

On our arrival at Wheeling, the streets and 
river s banks were crowded with people, who 
flocked from [141] every direction to see us. 
While we remained here, many called upon us, 
and treated us with kindness no one offering 
to molest or misuse us. This village is not 

ttife of 2Macft 

so large as either of those before mentioned, 
but is quite a pretty village. 

We left the steam boat here, having travelled 
a long distance on the prettiest river (except 
our Mississippi,) that I ever saw and took 
the stage. Being unaccustomed to this mode 
of travelling, we soon got tired, and wished 
ourselves seated in a canoe on one of our own 
rivers, that we might return to our friends. 
We had travelled but a short distance, before 
our carriage turned over, from which I received 
a slight injury, and the soldier had one arm 
broken. I was sorry for this accident, as the 
young man had behaved well. 

We had a rough and mountainous country 
for several days, but had a good trail for our 
carriage. It is astonishing to see what labor 
and pains the white people have had to make 
this road, as it passes over an immense num 
ber of mountains, which are generally covered 
with rocks and timber; yet it has been made 
smooth, and easy to travel upon. 49 

Rough and mountainous as is this country, 
there are many wigwams and small villages 
standing on the road side. I could see nothing 
in the country to induce the people to live in 
it ; and was astonished to find so many whites 
living on the hills! 

49 This was the famous Cumberland Road, often 
popularly known as the "National Road." For its 
history see Archer B. Hulbert, The Cumberland Road, 
(Cleveland, 1904). 


3tife of 

I have often thought of them since my return 
to my own people; and am happy to think that 
they prefer [142] living in their own country, 
to coming out to ours, and driving us from it, 
that they might live upon and enjoy it as 
many of the whites have already done. I think, 
with them, that wherever the Great Spirit 
places his people, they ought to be satisfied to 
remain, and thankful for what He has given 
them; and not drive others from the country 
He has given them, because it happens to be 
better than theirs! This is contrary to our 
way of thinking; and from my intercourse 
with the whites, I have learned that one great 
principle of their religion is, "to do unto 
others as you wish them to do unto you!" 
Those people in the mountains seem to act 
upon this principle; but the settlers on our 
frontiers and on our lands, never seem to 
think of it, if we are to judge by their actions. 

The first village of importance that we 
came to, after leaving the mountains, is called 
Hagerstown. It is a large village to be so far 
from a river, and is very pretty. The people 
appear to live well, and enjoy themselves much. 

We passed through several small villages on 
the way to Fredericktown, but I have forgotten 
their names. This last is a large and beautiful 
village. The people treated us well, as they 
did at all other villages where we stopped. 

Here we came to another road, much more 
wonderful than that through the mountains. 

ttife of SSlatft f atoft 

They call it a rail road! I examined it care 
fully, but need not describe it, as the whites 
know all about it. It is the [ 143 ] most aston 
ishing sight I ever saw. The great road over 
the mountains will bear no comparison to it 
although it has given the white people much 
trouble to make. I was surprised to see so 
much labor and money expended to make a 
good road for easy travelling. I prefer riding 
horseback, however, to any other way; but 
suppose that these people would not have gone 
to so much trouble and expense to make a 
road, if they did not prefer riding in their new 
fashioned carriages, which seem to run with 
out any trouble. They certainly deserve great 
praise for their industry. 

On our arrival at Washington, we called to 
see our Great Father, the president. 50 He 
looks as if he had seen as many winters as I 
have, and seems to be a great brave! I had 
very little talk with him, as he appeared to be 
busy, and did not seem to be much disposed 
to talk. I think he is a good man; and 
although he talked but little, he treated us 
very well. His wigwam is well furnished with 
every thing good and pretty, and is very 
strongly built. 

He said he wished to know the cause of my 
gojng to war against his white children. I 
thought he ought to have known this before; 
and, consequently, said but little to him about 

50 Andrew Jackson. 


Hife of SWacft 

it as I expected he knew as well as I could 
tell him. 

He said he wanted us to go to fortress Mon 
roe, and stay awhile with the war chief who 
commanded it. But, having been so long from 
my people, I told him [ 144 ] that I would rather 
return to my nation that Ke-o-kuck had 
come here once on a visit to see him, as we 
had done, and he let him return again, as soon 
as he wished ; and that I expected to be treated 
in the same way. He insisted, however, on 
our going to fortress Monroe ; and as our in 
terpreter could not understand enough of our 
language to interpret a speech, I concluded 
it was best to obey our Great Father, and say 
nothing contrary to his wishes. 

During our stay at the city, we were called 
upon by many of the people, who treated us 
well, particularly the squaws! We visited the 
great council house of the Americans the 
place where they keep their big guns and all 
the public buildings, and then started to for 
tress Monroe. The war chief met us, on our 
arrival, and shook hands, ahd appeared glad 
to see me. He treated us with great friend 
ship, and talked to me frequently. Previous 
to our leaving this fort, he gave us a feast, 
and gave us some presents, which I intend 
to keep for his sake. He is a very good 
man, and a great brave! I was sorry to 
leave him, although I was going to return to 
my people, because he had treated me like 

Eife of S&lacft l^atoft 

a brother, during all the time I remained 
with him. 

Having got a new guide, a war chief, [Maj. 
Garland,] we started for our own country, 
taking a circuitous route. Our Great Father 
being about to pay a visit to his children in 
the big towns towards sunrising, and being 
desirous that we should have an oppor- [145] 
tunity of seeing them, directed our guide to 
take us through. 

On our arrival at Baltimore, we were much 
astonished to see so large a village; but the 
war chief told us that we would soon see a 
larger one. This surprised us more. During 
our stay here, we visited all the public buildings 
and places of amusement saw much to ad 
mire, and were well entertained by the people, 
who crowded to see us. Our Great Father 
was there at the same time, and seemed to be 
much liked by his white children, who flocked 
around him, (as they had done us,) to shake 
him by the hand. He did not remain long 
having left the city before us. 

We left Baltimore in a steam boat, and 
travelled in this way to the big village, where 
they make medals and money, [Philadelphia.] 
We again expressed surprise at finding this 
village so much larger than the one we had 
left ; but the war chief again told us, that we 
would soon see another much larger than this. 
I had no idea that the white people had such 

Eifc of 25lack 

large villages, and so many people. They 
were very kind to us showed us all their 
great public works, their ships and steam boats. 
We visited the place where they make money, 
[the mint,] and saw the men engaged at it. 
They presented each of us with a number of 
pieces of the coin as they fell from the mint, 
which are very handsome. 

I witnessed a militia training in this city, in 
which were performed a number of singular 
military feats. [146] The chiefs and men 
were well dressed, and exhibited quite a war 
like appearance. I think our system of mili 
tary parade far better than that of the whites 
but, as I am now done going to war, I will 
not describe it, or say any thing more about 
war, or the preparations necessary for it. 

We next started to New York, and on our 
arrival near the wharf, saw a large collection 
of people gathered at Castle-Garden. We had 
seen many wonderful sights in our way large 
villages, the great national road over the 
mountains, the rail roads, steam carriages, 
ships, steam boats, and many other things; 
but we were now about to witness a sight more 
surprising than any of these. We were told 
that a man was going up into the air in a bal 
loon! We watched with anxiety to see if it 
could be true; and to our utter astonishment, 
saw him ascend in the air until the eye could 
no longer perceive him. Our people were all 

Sife of SEtfacft 

surprised, and one of our young men asked the 
prophet if he was going up to see the Great 
Spirit ? 

After the ascension of the balloon, we 
landed, and got into a carriage, to go to the 
house that had been provided for our reception. 
We had proceeded but a short distance, before 
the street was so crowded that it was impos 
sible for the carriage to pass. The war chief 
then directed the coachman to take another 
street and stop at a different house from the 
one we had intended. On our arrival here, 
we were waited upon by a number of gentle 
men, who seemed much pleased to see us. 
[147] We were furnished with good rooms, 
good provisions, and every thing necessary for 
our comfort. 

The chiefs of this big village, being desirous 
that all their people should have an opportunity 
to see us, fitted up their great council house 
for this purpose, where we saw an immense 
number of people; all of whom treated us 
with friendship, and many with great gen 

The chiefs were particular in showing us 
every thing that they thought would be pleas 
ing or gratifying to us. We went with them 
to Castle-Garden to see the fire-works, which 
was quite an agreeable entertainment- but to 
the whites who witnessed it, less magnificent 
than the sight of one of our large prairies would 
be when on fire. 


Sife of SMacft 

We visited all the public buildings and places 
of amusement, which to us were truly aston 
ishing, yet very gratifying. 

Every body treated us with friendship, and 
many with great liberality. The squaws pre 
sented us many handsome little presents, that 
are said to be valuable. They were very kind, 
very good, and very pretty tor pale fates ! 

Among the men, who treated us with marked 
friendship, by the presentation of many valu 
able presents, I cannot omit to mention the 
name of my old friend CROOKS, of the 
American Fur Company. I have known him 
long, and have always found him to be a good 
chief one who gives good advice, and treats 
[148] our people right. I shall always be 
proud to recognize him as a friend, and glad 
to shake him by the hand. 51 

Having seen all the wonders of this big vil 
lage, and being anxious to return to our people, 
our guide started with us for our own country. 
On arriving at Albany, the people were so 
anxious to see us, that they crowded the street 

51 Ramsey Crooks, to whom Black Hawk alludes, 
was for almost a generation a prominent actor in 
the conduct of the American fur trade. He was in 
Wisconsin, in the employ of the North West Com 
pany, as early as 1806. After participating in the 
Astorian Expedition of 1811-12 and other hazardous 
enterprises, Crooks entered the employment of John 
Jacob Astor. He was made a partner in Astor s 
American Fur Company in 1817, and in 1834, on 
Astor s retirement, became president of the com 
pany. He died at New York in 1859. 


tfe of 25Iacft 

and wharves, where the steam boat landed, so 
much, that it was almost impossible for us to 
pass to the hotel which had been provided for 
our reception. 

We remained here but a short time, and 
then started for Detroit. I had spent many 
pleasant days at this place; and anticipated, on 
my arrival, to meet many of my old friends 
but in this I was disappointed. What could 
be the cause of this ? Are they all dead ? Or 
what has become of them ? I did not see our 
old father 52 there, who had always gave me 
good advice, and treated me with great friend 

After leaving Detroit, it was but a few days 
before we landed at Prairie du Chien. The 
war chief at the fort treated us very kindly, as 
did the people generally. I called on the father 
of the Winnebagoes, [Gen. J. M. Street,] to 
whom I had surrendered myself after the battle 
at the Bad Axe, who received me very friendly. 
I told him that I had left my great medi 
cine bag with his chiefs before I gave myself 
up; and now, that I was to enjoy my liberty 
again, I was anxious to get it, that I might 
hand it down to my nation unsullied. 

[149] He said it was safe; he had heard his 
chiefs speak of it, and would get it and send 

52 Lewis Cass, who for many years was governor 
of Michigan Territory and superintendent in charge 
of the relations of the government with the Indian 
tribes of the larger portion of the Northwest. 


Hife of 25Iacft J^atoft 

it to me. I hope he will not forget his promise, 
as the whites generally do because I have 
always heard that he was a good man, and a 
good father and made no promise that he 
did not fulfil. 

Passing down the Mississippi, I discovered 
a large collection of people in the mining 
country, on the west side of the river, and on 
the ground that we had given to our relation, 
DUBUQUE, a long time ago. I was surprised 
at this, as I had understood from our Great 
Father, that the Mississippi was to be the 
dividing line between his red and white chil 
dren, and he did not wish either to cross it. I 
was much pleased with this talk, as I knew it 
would be much better for both parties. I have 
since found the country much settled by the 
whites further down and near to our people, 
on the west side of the river. I am very much 
afraid, that in a few years, they will begin to 
drive and abuse our people, as they have for 
merly done. I may not live to see it, but I 
feel certain the day is not distant. 

When we arrived at Rock Island, Ke-o-kuck 
and the other chiefs were sent for. They 
arrived the next day with a great number of 
their young men, and came over to see me. I 
was pleased to see them, and they all appeared 
glad to see me. Among them were some who 
had lost relations during the war the year be 
fore. When we met, I perceived the tear of 
sor-[i5O]row gush from their eyes at the 

life of 2Wacft 

recollection of their loss, yet they exhibited a 
smiling countenance, from the joy they felt at 
seeing me alive and well. 

The next morning, the war chief, our guide, 
convened a council at fort Armstrong. Ke-o- 
kuck and his party went to the fort; but, in 
consequence of the war chief not having called 
for me to accompany him, I concluded that I 
would wait until I was sent for. Consequently 
the interpreter came, and said, "they were 
ready, and had been waiting for me to come 
to the fort." I told him I was ready, and 
would accompany him. On our arrival there, 
the council commenced. The war chief said 
that the object of this council was to deliver 
me up to Ke-o-kuck. He then read a paper, 
and directed me to follow Ke-o-kuck s advice, 
and be governed by his council in all things ! In 
this speech he said much that was mortifying 
to my feelings, and I made an indignant reply. 

I do not know what object the war chief had 
in making such a speech, or whether he in 
tended what he said; but I do know, that it 
was uncalled for, and did not become him. I 
have addressed many war chiefs, and have 
listened to their speeches with pleasure but 
never had my feelings of pride and honor in 
sulted on any former occasion. I am sorry 
that I was so hasty in reply to this chief, be 
cause I said that which I did not intend. 

In this council, I met my old friend, a great 
war chief, [Col. Wm. Davenport,] whom I had 

Ittfr of 231ach ttatoft 

known [151] about eighteen years. He is a 
good and brave chief. He always treated me 
well, and gave me good advice. He made a 
speech to me on this occasion, very different 
from that of the other chief. It sounded like 
coming from a brave. He said he had known 
me a long time that we had been good friends 
during that acquaintance and, although he 
had fought against my braves, in our late war, he 
still extended the hand of friendship to me 
and hoped, that I was now satisfied, from what 
I had seen in my travels, that it was folly to 
think of going to war against the whites, and 
would ever remain at peace. He said he would 
be glad to see me at all times and on all 
occasions would be happy to give me good 

If our Great Father were to make such men 
our agents, he would much better subserve 
the interests of our people, as well as his own, 
than in any other way. The war chiefs all 
know our people, and are respected by them. 
If the war chiefs, at the different military posts 
on the frontiers, were made agents, they could 
always prevent difficulties from arising among 
the Indians and whites; and I have no doubt, 
had the war chief above alluded to, been our 
agent, we would never have had the difficulties 
with the whites which we have had. Our agents 
ought always to be braves! I would, there 
fore, recommend to our Great Father, the 
propriety of breaking up the present Indian 

Hife of 25lacfe 

establishment and creating a new one and 
of making the commanding officers, at the 
different frontier posts, the [152] agents of 
the government for the different nations of 

I have a good opinion of the American war 
chiefs, generally, with whom I am acquainted ; 
and my people, who had an opportunity of 
seeing and becoming well acquainted with the 
great war chief [Gen. Winfield Scott,] who 
made the last treaty with them, in conjunction 
with the great chief of Illinois, [Governor 
Reynolds,] all tell me that he is the greatest 
brave they ever saw, and a good man one 
who fulfils his promises. Our braves speak 
more highly of him, than of any chief that has 
ever been among us, or made treaties with us. 
Whatever he says, may be depended upon. 
If he had been our Great Father, we never 
would have been compelled to join the British 
in their last war with America and I have 
thought that, as our Great Father is changed 
every few years, that his children would do 
well to put this great war chief in his place 
as they cannot find a better chief for a Great 
Father any where. 53 

I would be glad if the village criers, [editors,] 

53 Probably Black Hawk was the first person to 
put General Scott in nomination for the presidency; 
Black Hawk s advice was adopted by the Whig 
party eighteen years later, but in the ensuing elec 
tion the American people registered their emphatic 
dissent from it. 


Eife of 2Macft 

in all the villages I passed through, would let 
their people know my wishes and opinions 
about this great war chief. 

During my travels, my opinions were asked 
on different subjects but for want of a good 
interpreter, were very seldom given. Presum 
ing that they would be equally acceptable now, 
I have thought it a part of my duty, to lay the 
most important before the public. 

[153] The subject of colonizing the negroes 
was introduced, and my opinion asked, as to 
the best method of getting clear of these 
people. I was not fully prepared at the time, 
to answer as I knew but little about their 
situation. I have since made many inquiries 
on the subject and find that a number of 
states admit no slaves, whilst the balance hold 
these negroes as slaves, and are anxious, but 
do not know, how to get clear of them. I 
will now give my plan, which, when under 
stood, I hope will be adopted. 

Let the free states remove all the male 
negroes within their limits, to the slave states 

then let our Great Father buy all the/ema/e 
negroes in the slave states, between the ages 
of twelve and twenty, and sell them to the 
people of the free states, for a term of years 

say, those under fifteen, until they are 
twenty-one and those of, and over fifteen, 
for five years and continue to buy all the 
females in the slave states, as soon as they 
arrive at the age of twelve, and take them to 


Itife of 25Iatfe 

the free states, and dispose of them in the 
same way as the first and it will not be long 
before the country is clear of the black skins, 
about which, I am told, they have been talking, 
for a long time; and for which they have ex 
pended a large amount of money. 

I have no doubt but our Great Father would 
willingly do his part in accomplishing this ob 
ject for his children as he could not lose 
much by it, and would make them all happy. 
If the free states did not want [154] them all 
for servants, we would take the balance in our 
nation to help our women make corn. 

I have not time now, nor is it necessary, to 
enter more into detail about my travels through 
the United States. The white people know 
all about them, and my people have started to 
their hunting grounds, and I am anxious to 
follow them. 

Before I take leave of the public, I must 
contradict the story of some village criers, 
who (I have been told,) accuse me of "hav 
ing murdered women and children among the 
whites!" This assertion is false! I never 
did, nor have I any knowledge that any of my 
nation ever killed a white woman or child. I 
make this statement of truth, to satisfy the 
white people among whom I have been travel 
ling, (and by whom I have been treated with 
great kindness,) that, when they shook me by 
the hand so cordially, they did not shake the 

Jlifc of 25lacft 

hand that had ever been raised against any 
but warriors. 

It has always been our custom to receive all 
strangers that come to our village or camps, 
in time of peace, on terms of friendship to 
share with them the best provisions we have, 
and give them all the assistance in our power. 
If on a journey, or lost, to put them on the 
right trail, and if in want of moccasins, to 
supply them. I feel grateful to the whites for 
the kind manner they treated me and my party 
whilst travelling amongst them and from my 
heart I assure them, that the white man will 
always be welcome in our village or camps, 
as a [155] brother. The tomahawk is buried 
forever! We will forget what has past and 
may the watchword between the Americans 
and Sacs and Foxes ever be "Friendship!" 

I am now done. A few more moons and 
I must follow my fathers to the shades ! May 
the Great Spirit keep our people and the whites 
always at peace is the sincere wish of 




ALBANY (N. Y.), Black Hawk visits, 93, 173-74. 

Allegheny Mountains, as a boundary, 15. 

American Bottom, in Illinois, 19. 

American Fur Company, partner, 173. 

Apple River (Moscohocoynak), fort on, 148-49. 

Arkansas River, Indian embassy to, 116. 

Astor, John Jacob, fur trader, 173. 

Astorian expedition, 173. 

Atkinson, Gen. Henry (White Beaver), in Black Hawk 
War, 133, 139, 163; orders Sioux massacre, 161; 
treatment of Black Hawk, 135, 137, 163-65; book 
dedicated to, 7-8. 

BAD AXE, battle of, 157-59, *6i, 174. 

Bad Axe River, mouth of, 157. 

Balloon ascension, Black Hawk describes, 171-72. 

Baltimore, Black Hawk visits, 170. 

Beans, legend of origin of, 95-96; raised by Indians, 
99, 127. 

Beaver, hunted, 98. 

Black Hawk (Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiah), birth, 23, 
30; early exploits, 30-35; visits factory, 50-52; in 
War of 1812, 44-46,52-60; visits Maiden, 101, 104; 
opposes removal from village, 102-7, 111-13, 116- 
17; agrees to remove, 118-19, 124; nonresistance, 
119-20, 125-26; signs treaty, 126; promised aid, 128- 
31; speeches, no, 122-23, X 48; prepares for war, 
131-32, 135; advances up Rock River, 131-36; coun 
cil with Potawatomi, 138-39; defeats whites, 139- 
44; forced into war, 145-46; early attacks, 146, 
148-50; at Four Lakes, 153; battle of Wisconsin 
Heights, 154-55; attempts to surrender, 157-58; 
battle of Bad Axe, 158-59; capture of, 160-61, 174; 
imprisoned, 161-64; ironed, 163; eastern tour, 21, 


93. 165-74; subjected to Keokuk, 176; family, 99, 
164; undertakes autobiography, 5, 10, 13; dedica 
tion, 7-8. 

Black Hawk War, causes, ix, 17-20, 106-33, J 68; hos 
tilities begun, 133-40; Stillman s defeat, 139-44; 
flight through Wisconsin, 153-57; Bad Axe defeat, 
157-59; Sioux massacre, 160-61; numbers engaged, 
145; losses, 161; results, 21-22, 162; accounts of, 9. 

British. See England. 

Buell, Pauline, acknowledgments to, xi. 

CAP AU GRIS (Capo Gray), on the Mississippi, 65. 

Cass, Lewis, Black Hawk commends, 174. 

Cherokee Indians, hostilities with, 33, 35. 

Chicago, beginnings, 22; Indian treaties at, 17, 115; 
in War of 1812, 56; trader at, 48-49; fur trade 
factory, 49. 

Chippewa Indians, hostilities with, 35; promise aid to 
Black Hawk, 129-30; Black Hawk seeks refuge 
among, 158. 

Cholera, effect on Black Hawk War, 162. 

Chouteau, Auguste, treaty commissioner, 80. 

Cincinnati, Black Hawk describes, 165. 

Clark, Gen. William, treaty commissioner, 80; Indian 
superintendent, 109, 112, 118-19, 131-32. 

Coles, Edward, governor of Illinois, 109-10. 

Craig, Capt. Thomas E., in War of 1812, 59. 

"Credit Island, 1814-1914," 76. 

Crooks, Ramsey, Black Hawk meets, 173. 

Cuivre (Quiver) River, 65-66, 70. 

Cumberland (National) Road, Black Hawk traverses, 
166-67, 171. 

DAVENPORT, Col. William, Indian agent, 176-77. 

Davis, Jefferson, in Black Hawk War, 22, 161; friend 
ship with Black Hawk, 162. 

Dement, Maj. John, bravery, 150-51. 

Des Moines Rapids, fort at, 40, 77, 81. 

Detroit, a frontier town, 19; in War of 1812, 44, 55-57; 
treaty near, 80; commandant, 114; Black Hawk 
visits, 174. 


Dickson (Dixon), Robert, British agent in War of 
1812, 46, 52-54, 58, 98; promises to Indians, 101. 

Dixon s Ferry, in Black Hawk War, 143, 147-48. 

Dogs, eaten by Indians, 26, 148. 

Dubuque, Julien, lead mines ceded to, 175. 

Durley, William, killed, 147. 

EDWARDS, Gov. Ninian, treaty commissioner, 80. 

England, captures Canada 29; influence on Indians, 
16, 19-20, 29, 38, 49, 54, 81, 86, 101, 114, 128-29, 
136, 145, 178; relation to Black Hawk, 129-30, 
145; wars with, 15-16, 46-47, 69, 101, 144; peace, 
121; fort at Prairie du Chien, 72-76. 

English River, hunting on, 68-69. 

Erie Canal, effect of, 22. 

FABIUS River, 81. 

Factory system. See fur trade factory. 

Farley, Mary, acknowledgments to, xi. 

Fire works, compared to a prairie fire, 172. 

Flags, at Indian village, 37-38, 74-75; at Fort Madi 
son, 46; Rock Island, 52; presented to Indians, 52, 
55; of truce, 69, 130, 157; British raised, 136. 

Forsyth, Thomas, Indian agent, 48-49, 98, 102-3, 109, 
in, 113; in War of 1812, 53, 55-56; attempt to 
capture, 56, 58, 98; threatened, 112; advises Black 
Hawk, 118; deprived of office, 120; successor, 147. 

Fort Apple River, attacked, 148-49. 

Fort Armstrong, built, 87; Indian agent at, 48; Black 
Hawk visits, 98; commandant, 103, 112, 162; coun 
cil at, 176-77. 

Fort Crawford, at Prairie du Chien, 161. 

Fort Dearborn, captured, 44, 56. 

Fort Howard, in Missouri, 66. 

Fort Johnson, built, 77; attacked, 78; abandoned, 77, 

Fort Madison, site, 133; built, 40-42; attack on, 44-46; 
factory at, 49-52; commandant, 60; abandoned, 65. 

Fort Wayne, 56. 

Fortress Monroe, Black Hawk at, 169. 

Foster, Mary S., acknowledgments to, xi. 

Four Lakes country, Black Hawk seeks, 146-47; refuge 

in, 153. See also Madison. 
Fox Indians, village, 38, 70, 75, 88; chief, 103; union 

with Sacs, 29-30; agency for, 5, 10; killed by Sioux, 

116; vengeance of, 127-28, 133; peace with, 80-81; 

hunting party, 128; oppose Black Hawk, 131. 
Fox River of Illinois, as a boundary, 17. 
Fox (Sac) River (Wis.), Indians on, 29. 
Frederick (Md.), Black Hawk visits, 167. 
French, struggle for America, 15, 29; Indians first 

meet, 24-25, 28-29; sell Louisiana, 36. 
French- Canadian settlements, in Illinois, 19; at Peoria, 

59; at Prairie du Chien, 47. 
Frontiersmen, attitude toward Indians, ix, 19; western 

advance, 15, 19. 
Fur trade, American, 173; British, 52, 82; French, 29; 

rivalry in, 15-16, 90; methods, 49-50, 52-53, 90, 97, 

99, 117. 
Fur trade factory, at Chicago, 49; Fort Madison, 41, 


Furs, stolen from Indians, 102. 
GAINES, Gen. Edmund P., advances against Black 

Hawk, 121, 124, 126, 128; makes treaty, 126, 133. 
Galena (111.), 119, 149, 162. 

Garland, Maj. John, accompanies Black Hawk, 170. 
Gomo, Potawatomi chief, 56, 58, 69, 71, 82-85. 
Gratiot, Henry, visit to Black Hawk, 135-37. 
Green Bay, Indians at, 29; in War of 1812, 53-54. 
HAGERSTOWN (Md.), Black Hawk visits, 167. 
Hall, Judge James, Black Hawk complains to, 109-10. 
Hall, Rachael, captured, 152. 
Hall, Sylvia, captured, 152. 
Hancock County (111.), 77. 
Harrison, William H., governor of Indiana Territory, 

17; holds treaty, 38. 
Hashequarhiqua, Sac chief, 39. 
Henderson River, 80. 
Honey, stolen from Indians, 102. 
Hulbert, Archer H., The Cumberland Road, 166. 
1 88 

ILLINOIS, early settlements in, 19; hunting, 60; massa 
cre, 152; militia, 20, 59, 125, 133, 150; land cession 
in, 40, 103; governor, 80, 109, 178; effect of Black 
Hawk War in, 22. 

Illinois River, as a boundary, 17, 21; village on, 48; 
Indians on, 56, 58, 71; hunting on, 83; massacre 
on, 152. 

Illinois State Historical Society Journal, 76. 

Indian agent, at Rock Island, 5, 10, 48, 98, 102-3, 
118, 177; for Winnebago, 105, 135; superintendent, 
109, 112, 118-19, 131-32, 174; killed in war, 147; 
changes recommended, 178. 

Indian corn, legend of, 95-96; cultivation, 91, 93, 95, 
99, 107, 117, 120, 124, 145, 180; harvested, 50, 89, 
95> 97J given to Sacs, 126; stolen by Sacs, 127. 

Indian Creek (111.), massacre on, 152. 

Indiana Territory, governor, 17; in 1804, 18-19. 

Indians, characteristics, ix, 20; food, 91, 98, 107, 112- 
13; dress, 160; feasts, 26, 35, 90-92, 94-95, 139, 
148; games, 97; dances, 31, 33, 75, 91-93* I47J 
amusements, 50, 121; harvests, 50, 89, 95, 97; treat 
ment of women, 65,91-92, 107, 180; courtship, 92; 
marriage, 91-92; divorce, 92; women s influence, 
117, 123-24; religion, 95, 97, 107; belief in dreams, 
78, 121, 123, 148; legends, 23-28, 88, 95-96; code of 
morals, 87; hunting customs, 35, 50, 93-94, 97-98, 
117; drunkenness, 99,108, no; present giving, 90, 
94; hospitality, 181; devotion to ancestral seat, 89, 
106-7, iii-i2, 117, 127, 163; payment for murder, 
39, 100; desire for vengeance, 127-28, 147, 152; 
cause of wars, 15-16, 94; war customs, 62, 65, 92-93, 
134, 142; war songs, 122, 134; neutrality, 49; peace 
customs, 101; death songs, 68, 100; mourning cus 
toms, 34, 35, 83, 89, 90, 99; maple sugar making, 
98; medicine bags, 33, 79, 139, 147-48, 160, 174; 
treatment by whites, x, 10, 12, 17, 43, 48, 86-87, 
102, 104, 106, 108, no, 114, 141, 146, 163, 167, 
175; land cessions to, 10, 17, 40; effect of confine 
ment on, 164. 


Iowa, Annals of, 40. 

Iowa, boundary, 157; Indians in, 20. 

Iowa Indians, on the warpath, 34; hostilities with Sacs, 

Iowa (loway) River, affluent, 69; camp on, 68; village, 
103, 105-6. 

JACKSON, Andrew, Black Hawk visits, 168-69; at Bal 
timore, 170. 

Jefferson Barracks, troops at, 133; Black Hawk, 161-65. 

Jeffreon River, in Missouri, 40. 

Johnston, Albert Sidney, in Black Hawk War, 22. 

KASKASKIA Indians, war with Sacs and Foxes, 30, 35. 

Kellogg s Grove (111.), in Black Hawk War, 150-51. 

Keokuk (Keokuck), Sac chief, 20, 63, 132; becomes 
war chief, 64; removes village, 103-6, 112; attends 
treaty, 114-15; at council, 121-22, 175-77; desires 
peace, 131-32; visits Washington, 169; agent for, 
147; defense of, 118; relation to Black Hawk, 106-7, 
112, 116-17, 124, 131, 164-65, 176; speech, 64; 
sketch, 63. 

Kickapoo Indians, in War of 1812, 54, 56. 

Kinzie, John, trader, 48. 

Kishwaukee (Kishwacokee) River, Black Hawk on, 
137-38, 146; Winnebago on, 147. 

LA CROSSE (Prairie La Cross), Winnebago village at, 

La Gutrie, Edward, British trader, 52, 54, 81-82. 

Lake Michigan, as a boundary, 22. 

Lance, The Sac chief, 63. 

Lead mines, region of, 44, 70, 80; settled, 21; cession 
of, 104, 175; worked by Indians, 94; in Black 
Hawk War, 147. 

Leclaire, Antoine, interpreter for Black Hawk, 10, 13; 
certificate, 5. 

Lincoln, Abraham, in Black Hawk War, 22. 

Louisiana, purchase, 36. 

Louisville, Black Hawk visits, 165. 

MACKINAC, Indians at, 29; massacre at, 43; in War of 
1812, 44; fur trade post, 82. 

Madison (Wis.), 155. See also Four Lakes country. 

Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiah. See Black Hawk. 

Maiden, British defeat at, 69; Indians visit, 101, 114, 

Matatah, Potawatomi brave, 83-84. 

Mattatas, Sac chief, 123; daughter, 123-24. 

Medals, given to Indians, 25, 38-39, 55, 101; value, 26. 

Menominee Indians, hunt with Sacs, 82; kill Foxes, 
116; vengeance on, 127-28, 133. 

Meramec River, 33. 

Michigan, in 1804, 19; territorial governor, 174. 

Milwaukee (Milwdke) as a fort, 129, 138. 

Mint, Black Hawk visits, 171. 

Mississippi, governor of, 161. 

Mississippi River, as a boundary, 15, 17, 20, 22, 40, 60, 
103, 109, 113, 118, 121-22, 124-26, 135, 144, 153, 
155-56, J 63, 175; affluents, 33; island in, 87; ice 
in, 105; fur trade on, 49; during War of 1812, 55, 
63,65,72-77; Indians claim, 89; Indians cross, 158- 
61; Black Hawk on, 133, 157, 175; Pike ascends, 

Missouri, Indians in, 30, 60-61; governor, 80; land 
cessions in 17; in War of 1812, 66-68, 70. 

Missouri Gazette, 74. 

Missouri River, Indians on, 31, 63, 70; mouth, 89. 

Montreal, Indian habitat, 23, 29. 

Moscohocoynak. See Apple River. 

Mukataquet, Black Hawk s ancestor, 26-27, 148. 

Muscow Indians, visit Sacs, 30. 

Muskrats, hunted, 98. 

NAMAH (Sturgeon), Sac chief, 23, 25-26, 28. 

Nanamakee (Thunder), Black Hawk s ancestor, 23-28, 
30, 148; speech, 27-28. 

Napoleon I, sells Louisiana, 36. 

National Road. See Cumberland Road. 

Neapope, Sac chief, 112, 128-31, 137, 145; with rear 
guard, 153; retires to the Winnebago, 156. 

Negro colonization, Black Hawk s opinions on, 179-80. 

New York City, Black Hawk visits, 93, 171-73. 

Nomite, Sac chief, 80. 

North West Fur Company, in Wisconsin, 173. 

OGLE County (111.), battle in, 145. 

Ohio River, as a boundary, 15, 19; Black Hawk on, 
165; characterizes, 166. 

Old Northwest, last Indian war in, 16. 

Osage Indians, intertribal relations, 30-35. 

Osage River, 30. 

Ottawa (111.), 152. 

Ottawa Indians, in War of 1812, 54; promise aid to 
Black Hawk, 120-30. 

Ouchequ^ka, Sac chief, 39. 

Ouisconsin River. See Wisconsin River. 

PASHEPAHO, Sac chief, 39. 

Paukahummawa (Sun Fish), Sac chief, 23, 26, 28. 

Peoria, visited, 48; in War of 1812, 53, 55, 59, 
63-64, 69; commandant, 71, 83-85. 

Philadelphia, Black Hawk visits, 170. 

Pike, Zebulon M., on the Mississippi, 37, 38. 

Polo (111.), in Black Hawk War, 147. 

Portage des Sioux (Mo.), treaties at, 80; as a bound 
ary, 89. < 

Potawatomi (Pottowattomi) Indians, habitat, 49, 56, 
71; language, 71; in War of 1812, 53-54, 56, 58, 
69-70, 82-85; treaty with, 115; promise aid to Black 
Hawk, 129-30, 137; council with, 138-39; repudiate 
Black Hawk, 139; participate in massacre, 152. 

Prairie du Chien (Wis.), 44, 47; in War of 1812,47, 
72-76; fort at, 72; council, 116; treaty, 114-15; 
massacre near, 127, 133; in Black Hawk War, 155, 
1 60; return to, 174. 

Prairie La Crosse. See La Crosse. 

Presidency, Black Hawk s nomination, 178. 

Prophet. See Shawnee Prophet. 

Prophet (Winnebago). See White Cloud. 

Pyesa, Black Hawk s father, 23, 30-31; death, 33, 35. 

QUAIFE, M. M., Chicago and the Old Northwest, 17, 43, 
49, 56, 162. 

Quashquame, Sac chief, 39, 63, 66, 104, no, 115. 

Quebec, British capture, 29. 

Quiver River. See Cuivre River. 

RACCOONS, hunted, 98. 

Railroad, Black Hawk describes, 168. 

Red River, Indian Embassy to, 116. 

Reynolds, John, governor of Illinois, 125, 178; calls 
out militia, 133. 

Rockford (111.), site, 137. 

Rock Island (111.), legend of, 88; agency at, 5, 10, 48, 
98, 102-3, H3, 118,133,147,164; trader, 52, 1 12-13,* 
133, 164; fort on, 87; interpreter at, 105, 113, 164; 
council, 175; cholera, 162; visitors, 109; battles 
near, 72-77; encampment, 126; village, 75, 87-88; 
in Black Hawk War, 136. 

Rock Rapids, in the Mississippi, 72, 76, 77, 88. 

Rock River, rapids in, 88-89; islands, 107; source, 146; 
affluent, 137; Winnebago on, 105; soldiers on, 121, 
125-26; war party, 72; Indian village at mouth, 19, 
23,30,36,42,49,58-59, 61-62, 71, 79, 81; signed 
away, 87, no; removal from, 103-6, 116, 122; Black 
Hawk ascends, 133-36. 

SAC (Sauk) Indians, aboriginal habitat, 23; village built, 
30; language, 141 ; myths, 23-28,88; superstitions, 
160; customs, 90-98, 148; union with Foxes, 29-30; 
Missouri band, 62-63, 7, 7 2 J intertribal relations, 
93-94, 98, 100-1; agency for, 5, 10, 98, 102-3, 109, 
in-12, 114; relation to British, 16, 19-20, 46-47, 
72, 101 ; treatment by Americans, 102-6, 108, 111-14, 
117-27; threaten hostilities, 112; rescue captives, 
152; fugitives, 155-56; die of hunger, 156-57; mas 
sacred by Sioux, 160-61; visit Washington, 48-49; 
council with, 42; described, 88-89. See also Black 
Hawk War. 

Sac River. See Fox River. 

Sacs and Foxes, unite, 29; treaty of 1804, 9, 17-18, 
38-40; treaty of 1816,80,85-86, 127; treaty of 1833, 

St. Louis (Mo.), Spanish at, 34, 36; transferred to 
United States, 36-37; treaty at, 10, 17, 38-40, 85-86; 


in War of 1812, 55, 63; peace announced at, 69, 71, 

80; agency at, 98, 104, 108, 111-12, 118-19, 131-32, 
St. Vrain, Felix, massacred, 147. 
Salt River, 37, 54. 
Sanatuwa, Potawatomi chief, 71. 
Sangamon (Sangomo) River, hunting ground, 69. 
Sauk Indians. See Sac Indians. 
Scott, Gen. Winfield, in Black Hawk War, 22; at Rock 

Island, 162-63; Black Hawk nominates for presi- 
dency, 178. 
Selkirk, Thomas Douglas, Earl, settlement on Red 

River, 130-31. 

Shaw nee Prophet, revolt of, 43-44, 106. 
Sink Hole Battle, 66-68. 
Siouan Indian stock, 30. 
Sioux Indians, hostilities with, 93-94, 98, 116, 127; 

massacre Sacs, 160-61. 
Skunk River, hunting on, 50. 
Slavery, Black Hawk s ideas on, 179-80. 
Snelling, William J., Tales of the Northwest, 47. 
Spanish, at St. Louis, 34, 36; transfer Louisiana, 36, 37. 
Spring Wells (Mich.), treaties at, 80. 
Squashes, raised by Indians, 127. 
Stevens, Frank E., The Black Hawk War, 74, 125, 147, 

149, 152. 

Stillman s Defeat, 139-44, 150. 
Street, Gen. J. M., Indian agent, 174-75. 
Sturgeon, Sac chief. See Namah. 
Sun Fish, Sac chief. See Paukahummawa. 
Sycamore Creek, battle near, 145. 
TATAPUCKEY, Potawatomi chief, 71. 
Taylor, Maj. Zachary, in War of 1812, 76-77. 
Tecumseh, Shawnee chief, 43, 106. 
Texas, Indian embassy to, 116. 
Throckmorton, Capt. John, commands the "Warrior," 

157-58; characterized, 158. 
Thunder, Sac chief. See Nanamakee. 
Thwaites, Reuben G., opinion cited, 106, 156; "Story 

of the Black Hawk War," 159, 161; Wisconsin, 76. 


Tippecanoe, battle of, 44. 

Tobacco, legend of origin, 95-96. 

Treaty of Paris (1763), 15. 

Treaty of Paris (1783), 15-16. 

Treaty of San Ildefonso (1800), 36. 

Treaty of 1804, with Sacs and Foxes, 9, 17-18, 38-40, 
103, no, 113-14- 

Treaty of 1815, at Portage des Sioux, 80. 

Treaty of 1815, at Spring Wells, 80. 

Treaty of 1816, at St. Louis, 80, 85-86, 127. 

Treaty of 1821, at Chicago, 17. 

Treaty of 1825, at Prairie du Chien, 114-15. 

Treaty of 1833, at Chicago, 17. 

Two River country, hunting in, 77, 81-82, 102. 

VENISON, given Black Hawk in captivity, 164. 

Vincennes, capital of Indiana Territory, 19. 

WABASH River, Indians on, 43-44, 85; visit to, 114. 

Wacome, Sac chief, 64. 

Wapello, Sac chief, 121-22. 

War of 1812, cause, ix; in the West, 44-48, 52-59; in 
Missouri, 66-68; at Prairie du Chien, 72-76; Indians 
in, 178; peace made, 69-71, 80. 

"Warrior," Mississippi steamboat, 157-58. 

Warsaw (111.), site, 77. 

Washeown, Potawatomi chief, 69-70; death, 71. 

Washington, George, favors factory system, 49. 

Washington (D. C.), capitol, 85; chiefs desire to visit, 
131-32; Indians visit, 48-49, 51, 104, 113-14, 169; 
Black Hawk visits, 165, 168-70. 

Wassacummico, Chippewa band, 130. 

West Point, Black Hawk describes, 93. 

Wheeling (W. Va.), Black Hawk describes, 165-66. 

Whig party, presidential candidate, 178. 

White Beaver. See Atkinson, Gen. Henry. 

White Cloud (Winnebago Prophet), village, 129-30, 
I 35, i37; Black Hawk consults, 105, 116, 121; ad 
vice, 121, 123, 129-31, 134, 145; joins war party, 
133, 138; speech, 134; aids Gratiot s escape, 136-37; 
sketch, 105-6. 


Winnebago Indians, villages, 105, 156, 160; inter 
tribal relations, 127-28; assist Tecumseh, 43-44; in 
War of 1812, 45, 54; agent for, 105, 135, 174; sym 
pathize with Black Hawk, 129, 136, 146, 157-58; 
oppose Black Hawk, 137, 139; join hostiles, 147; 
rescue captives, 152; guide the whites, 153; at Black 
Hawk s surrender, 160. 

Winnebago Prophet. See White Cloud. 

Wisconsin, Indians of, 29; fur trade in, 173; effect of 
Black Hawk War, 21-22; history, 76. 

Wisconsin Heights, battle of, 153-55. 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, 46, 48, 66, 76, 137, 
m 159-60. 

Wisconsin (Ouisconsin) River, as a boundary, 17, 21; 
mouth, 89, 155; Indians on, 30; Black Hawk, 153, 
J 55-56; massacre on, 116; battle, 153-55. 


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